(eng) LANTERNE NOIRE

Curtis Price (cansv@igc.apc.org)
Thu, 25 Jul 1996 15:17:12 +0200


This is something I translated a few years ago - a collective
statement from an anarchist split-off from the French I.C.O
group in the early 70's

Curtis Price

OUR POINTS IN COMMON

One class's exploitation and domination of another is not based
solely on the means of production but also on the reproduction of the
conditions of production.

The State guarantees and legitimates the perpetuation of the
established system. Through schools, the police, courts and the army, it
holds a monopoly of force and violence, with or without the cons
ent of its victims.

Revolution represents the sole possibility for change. It is
planning and action, theory and practice of the exploited opposing the
perpetuation of the dominant classes' privileges. Forces set in m
otion and a deepening of the struggle will result in a new situation.
The revolution is both an ending and a beginning.

But the revolutionary process can also perpetuate the old society in
the new and thus make possible the recreation of the old structures of
domination and exploitation (Hierarchies, delegation of pow
er, bureaucracy.)

Thus the revolution as insurrection and expropriation will not
represent-nor will it take upon itself the job of representing-a
particular, more or less abstract social category. The revolution will
not be carried out in "the name of the people" or "the proletariat,"
or whatever. It will be the concrete expression of those sectors that
define themselves through action and speak for themselves.
Not the dictatorship of one party in the name of a class, not the
government of one class, even if it is the proletariat, over other
exploited classes (peasants, salaried workers, etc.)

The revolution will destroy the capitalist mode of production end
class divisions and the domination of one Class by another.

For us the revolution stands for the disappearance of the social as
well as technical division of labor, the division between workers and
intellectuals, the separation between city and countryside an
d fundamentally, of order- givers and order takers. From now on we
will struggle against these divisions including divisions within our own
group, knowing above all that the solution will not be ind
ividualistic, sectarian or voluntaristic. Although indispensable,
changes on the interpersonal level are necessarily partial. For a profound
change to tale place, it is necessary at the same time t
o alter the fundamental framework of the state and the capitalist
mode of production. Which is to say in the present historical situation
the revolution requires a collective moment of insurrection.

To change the system of production is also to change the entire make
up of the technology bound up with these divisions, thus changing the
manner in which men produce and establishing egalitarian rel
ations between one another and every other domain: not simple
control, however democratic it might be in which workers remain "masters"
of their factory, farmers of their land, etc. Instead this imp
lies a rotation of jobs between different types of production and
excluded any sort of state, no matter how transitional, all forms of
centralism, no matter how democratic, and all types of reformism
, no matter how robust.

We do not know whether such a revolution is possible, but we do know
that without it nothing is possible (in any case, no form of socialism is
possible.) One of our tasks is to discuss and envision p
resent day possibilities, avoiding all dogmatism.

The fact that we think that the proletariat is no longer expanding in
the developing world, and that it is not the only motor of history, is not
to say that it will be replaced. Replacing the prolet
ariat by youth, or the marginalized or by technicians in accordance
with the situation or momentary interests, is to fall into a mode of
abstract thought that makes the industrial proletariat THE rev
olutionary class in the first place.

There is in each of us, although in different ways, capitalist,
fascist and repressive tendencies. To be a revolutionary is to struggle
against, but alga to keep track of, these tendencies within ou
rselves, which is to say that there is no potentially revolutionary
mass "betrayed" by wicked bureaucrats, but rather that capitalism could not
successfully give rise to stabilizing influences (union
s, political parties) without also implanting those elements in our
heads. This is not to argue that it is necessary to change the individual
before changing society but rather that we must try to u
nderstand the relation between repressive institutions and ourselves
without falling into the problem of the chicken and egg.
Self-transformation and consciousness are acquired in a battle against e
verything that orders and centralizes, against all the mediating and
ideological institutions, and especially against the State.
Self-transformation and ""consciousness"" will arise in all areas of
daily life, not only in our places of work.

Our project is therefore anti-authoritarian and anti-statist.

As a result, a revolutionary group's role is neither to represent nor
to organize but to participate (without separating theory from practice to
the extent that is possible) in the destruction of cap
italism, in accord with what the group thinks and what it wishes.
The group is not external to the masses that without it would only be
reformist, it is instead a small part of the masses that wishe
s neither to lead nor be led and that has decided to express itself,
to suggest, to analyze and to fight.

There are real contradictions and oppositions between a group and the
rest of society but in the end they are nothing but differences between
different social layers and different sections of the pro
letariat. The danger of vanguardism exists only to the extent that
everyone fails to express or suggest ideas, and when there are no
egalitarian forms of communication. Thus we prefer a maximum ope
ning of expression, the creation of many channels for exchanging
ideas, and doing this without falling into the trap of a radical elitism
which is nothing but the other side of the reformist coin. A
nd this isn't simple. When it's a question of defining revolutionary
strategy, groups have the tendency to go from elitism to reformism from one
day to the next.

We do not believe because of its inherent internal contradictions
capitalism contains the seeds of socialism. This idealist vision of
history has several drawbacks:

*** Triumphalism which disguises profound, unresolved difficulties

*** A tendency to wait and do nothing

*** A tendency always to define problems as economic and social

*** Preferring institutions that in the name of their supposed place
in "history" accept legality but which are in fact nothing more than a
means of preserving the existing system.

These considerations oblige us to reject this conception of history
not because it is true or false: there is no more a science of revolution,
any more than there is a science of history. It is only
in the light of our revolutionary project - anti-statist,
anti-authoritarian and anti-centralist - that we judge history and
political and economic systems and that we struggle.

-- Collective text, La Lanterne Noire no.1 (circa 1975)

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