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(en) US, Issue #1 The Perspectives of the NorthWest Anarchist Federation Organize, Damnit!, Jered-The Firebrand Collective

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 13 Mar 2005 09:25:40 +0100 (CET)

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Living in a city many consider to be a leftist haven, I constantly find
myself wanting to leave Portland. Leftists here are either engaged in
reformist organizing that ultimately depends on winning political
support from government parties and representatives or alienate their
potential base through inflammatory rhetoric about smashing this or
destroying that. Reformists may know how to organize, yet they have
no overarching program and praxis that will bring about revolutionary
change. The ideological purists have some form of an analysis of what
is wrong and they only agitate people about what the problems are, yet
they have no program and praxis that will allow them to effectively
organize people towards revolutionary change. The left in Portland and
in many places appears to be doomed to reformism or isolation. But I
refuse to accept this situation. If we radicals want to create
revolutionary change we must develop a program and praxis based in
social movements and we must train ourselves up as effective
revolutionary organizers. Seeing as I came to consciousness as a
radical in the camp of ideological purism, I will speak from that angle.
We radical leftists often find ourselves marginalized in our unions,
community organizations, in the streets, and on the picket line. We all
know what were against, we all hate this fucked up system of
oppression. At some point we begin to react against our bosses,
landlords, racism, and sexism. The problem is, we can't provide
ourselves and the people in our communities and workplaces with
practical tactics and theories (praxis) that move us closer to our ideal of
freedom and equality.
We can't pretend to have all the answers, and we would be fools to
assume we did. By assessing our situation, the base of people who we
want to move towards radical change and the comrades who we can
work with to do this, practical answers and revolutionary victories can
happen. This begins with organizing where we are individually and
Radicals assume they can galvanize people by simply stating the
problem. Bullshit! It comes down to appeals to an individual's
self-interest that also coincide with collective self-interest. For
example, when organizing a union, you have to agitate your
co-workers around issues they face, not just an issue like 'pay sucks'.
You have to find out what pisses a person off and move them towards
action out of anger at that issue. Making the connection that we all
have to band together to change the current situation is an appeal to
collective self-interest.
Although a person or group may want to organize out of self-interest,
they probably won't be actively involved in the organizing unless there
is a practical praxis that has succeeded in making change in the past.
A praxis is a combination of tactics, strategy, and a theoretical
objective. For example, when organizing a radical political group, your
tactic may be putting out a newspaper. Your strategy may be to draw
other radicals together through the newspaper to carry out direct
actions based within social struggle, such as during a strike. Your
theoretical objective may be to lead social movements towards
revolutionary change, not by being in leadership positions, but through
ideas propagated through actions and words.
The combination of agitating people based on individual and collective
self interest and educating them through praxis will lead to an
organized group of people. Agitate, Educate, Organize--three basic
ideas that are not often put into practice by radicals. Yet when they are,
organizations develop that make revolutionary change, such as
occupying workplaces and running them collectively or withholding
rent checks and taking over apartment buildings.
Another major fault of radicals when it comes to organizing is the idea
that "just any old person" will be great for this or that organizing effort.
Once again, Bullshit! Whether radicals want to admit it or not, there
are always dynamic people who motivate others. These are the people
whom we must get involved in our organizing and organizations.
When it comes to organizing a union, there are folks at work who set
up the barbeques and get all their co-workers to come with a dish and
some beer and there are the folks who just show up at the barbeque
empty-handed with empty stomachs, looking to score free food and
beer. I don't know about you, but when it comes to organizing for a
revolution, I want to organize with people who will draw a large
amount of people out to the barricades with the appropriate training to
fight. The hell if I want to organize with someone who just shows up to
stuff. Whether at a barbeque, picket line, or direct action, we must
have people who can move others into action in our organizing
committees and radical political groups. If we don't, we'll be the only
ones flipping the burgers, making the potato salad, and buying all the
If we radicals want to get anywhere with our organizing then we've got
to get our shit together: we need knowledge and experience of how to
organize. Discipline and collective struggle will bring us to victory, a
victory where racist, sexist bosses, landlords, and politicians get the
shit kicked out of them and working people take over the operations of
society in a directly democratic and egalitarian manner.

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