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(en) US, Platform and Constitution For Rochester Red and Black
Tue, 11 Dec 2012 11:54:59 +0200
Platform ---- Capitalism ---- Fundamentally, we oppose capitalism and all forms of
exploitation. Capitalism is an imposed socially constructed system, not a product of
human nature. It is founded on exploitation, which extracts profits from the labor of the
workers. This creates an uneven class system, where lower classes continue to be the
source of profit for those on top. Through this an entire matrix of inequality is
initiated, creating divisions and hierarchies between people based on race, sex, gender
orientation, and an array of other elements of identity. These inequalities are inherent
to capitalism’s drive to create competition between people rather than cooperation, and
therefore perpetuate inequality.
Capitalism drives all elements of social and natural life into a form of commodity:
resources, nature, individuals and even the basic experiences of life. In an economic
sense, capitalism’s brutal class system requires institutionalized poverty at the bottom.
This is perpetuated with a series of myths, such as the idea that capitalism is a
natural form of human evolution and the concept of the necessary nature of meritocracy,
which says that the wealth people own comes from their own merit.
Class society requires a mechanism to protect the interests of the minority that control
wealth and power. That mechanism is the state. The state is not a neutral instrument
that the working class can take control of for its own interest. The state holds a
monopoly on “legitimate” violence within society, meant to ensure “order” despite
injustice and inequality. Whether dictatorships, “representational democracies”, or state
communism, all states act as defenders of that inequality. When American capitalists have
interests that extend beyond theUSborders, the state creates the illusion of a national
interest to create the legitimacy necessary to wage war. These wars are clearly in service
of the interests of the capitalist class and are ultimately not in the interest of the
working classes of either land. The tool by which the state maintains its control either
at home or abroad is coercion.
In an effort to preserve their legitimacy, and as a result of class struggle, some states
maintain programs with important positive social impact like Social Security and Medicare.
These programs are ultimately unsustainable, as they are counter to the interests of the
capitalists that the state actually represents. Therefore these programs are distorted
and weakened over time to ensure that business interests are satisfied. To organize a
revolutionary society, we must have popular and democratic institutions that replace the
positive functions of the state. We believe in community self-management of society and
the economy rather than state and capitalist control.
In place of the present capitalist system we seek to establish a society of free
producers, where the now-oppressed masses make all the fundamental decisions of social
life directly through organizations of their own choice with which they identify
themselves completely and can exert control. This means a society run through popular,
democratic institutions, where all are able to participate in the decisions that affect
their lives. A free society, we contend, can only be based on the notion of “from each
according to their abilities, to each according to their need,” since only under
conditions of social and economic equality can freedom – real freedom – truly develop.
Likewise, a society based on the ideas of liberty, equality and solidarity is the only
social arrangement where both the individual and collective elements of society can be
recognized and cherished without one subsuming the other- where all human potential that
is restrained by the present economic and social order can be allowed to flourish. Such a
society we call Anarchist Communism.
While we hope for a future where all of humanity is united and working towards common
goals of justice and fulfillment for all, we recognize that there are currently many
barriers to that future. Humanity is not one big happy family. We are divided primarily
into two conflicting classes, a working class that survives by selling its time and labor,
and a capitalist class that profits from the exploitation of the working class. While a
parasitic capitalist class lives in luxury through its exploitation of the masses of
people, a unified humanity remains impossible.
In the process of building a class that can only survive through selling its time and
labor, capitalism locks some people out of the work force. Some are held in near permanent
unemployment and others, like housewives, help to contribute to society’s wealth but
aren’t paid for it. Others, like farm workers in theUnited States, are not considered
workers legally. This is absurd, since the industrial and business nature of agriculture
today makes farm workers – just like housewives and the unemployed – an integral part of
the working class.
Not everyone who is in a class knows that they are in the class. There is frequently a
difference between the class that people perceive themselves to be in and the class that
they actually are in objectively. In theUnited States, huge numbers of people believe
themselves to be part of the middle class. In terms of the relationship that they hold to
power and wealth, these same people are almost always a part of the working class, but for
a variety of reasons have begun to identify as a “middle class” that sees itself as
separate from the working class. When we choose to identify as separate classes, we
ultimately weaken the ability of the broad working class to resist the deterioration of
their standard of living.
Different sectors of the working class are made to believe that their interests are
contrary to each other. Nothing can be further from the truth. When one sector of workers
faces a loss, a ripple effect will ultimately impact others as the standard of living that
the capitalist class is expected to provide the working class declines. This is also true
when workers win. If wages and benefits in one sector rise, other businesses are forced to
raise their wages and benefits to compete and attract workers.
We organize to build working class unity through struggle and build a united working class
movement for the abolition of classes altogether. Because the working class creates all
wealth in the world, they not only have a right to that wealth, but also have the power to
stop the production of all wealth in the world. This ultimately means that the working
class has the power to rid itself of the ruling class which survives on the profits
created by the working class.
In the short term, this means that the working class has the power through direct action
and class struggle to create immediate change. In a struggle for universal health care,
there is great power in an organized body of health care workers refusing to deny
services. In a struggle against the privatization of public utilities, there is great
power in organized utility workers refusing to turn off people’s power. In the struggle
against war, there is great power in dock workers refusing to ship arms. Ultimately it is
within the grasp of the unified working class to bring the capitalist system of inequality
and exploitation to a grinding halt through mass class struggle.
Role of the Anarchist Organization
In spite of its commitment to revolutionary values, anarchism has often played only a
minor role in the history of revolutions worldwide. Its internal disconnection and lack of
coordination have reduced its impact. To remedy this situation, we seek to create an
anarchist organization that can bring local anarchists together to develop our ideas and
theories which can then be brought back into the social movements of which we are a part.
It is these social movements, not the anarchist organization, which are the revolutionary
actors. The role of the anarchist organization is to draw from the ideas and experiences
gained from those social movements and to offer our own ideas to them. We reject Leninist
vanguardism and the idea of attempting to capture the leadership of social movements in
order to force our beliefs on those involved. Where social movements do not exist, the
role of organized anarchists should be to catalyze them and attempt to move them in a more
radical militant direction.
Direct action simply means to act directly for yourself rather than having an intermediate
perform the task for you, such as in the representative state. This will ultimately mean
the expropriation of the current capitalist forms of property and government, and
restructuring and redistributing resources based on the direct decision making of the
people. In the present moment, direct action can take the form of boycotting, civil
disobedience, disruption of ecological destruction, eviction blockades, university or
workplace occupations and active resistance to unjust policy. We believe that direct
action is the most potent force for social change as it bypasses institutional barriers
and allows participants to take active control over their lives and communities, which
genuinely empowers people and foreshadows the way in which a positive society will
function. In this way we are opposed to electoral politics in principle as they maintain
convention and class domination and do not inhabit the spirit of direct democracy.
Our position on direct action does not mean that we will not take on other tactics, or be
accountable to other groups with whom we are working, but it does mean that we believe
direct action is the most effective form of action and fundamental to the transformation
of society and those involved.
Patriarchy and Queer Liberation
We reject patriarchy: the system of male domination, heteronormity, and gender oppression.
Through our rejection of patriarchy we also reject the gender binary as well as any
biological or social basis for sexism. We intend to fight sexism both when it takes
economic and non-economic form, such as through familial roles, rape culture, and unwaged
labor such as childcare. Systems of hierarchy reinforced through capitalism and the state
make gender liberation impossible, and therefore we see issues of patriarchy as taking
part in a larger system of socio-economic oppression. Both institutions require strict
adherence to prescribed roles and inequality within those roles, and they include set
gender, sexual, and behavioral norms.
Through this we challenge heteronormity and the assumption of standardized expressions of
sexuality and gender, and support the free development of people’s identity and
relationships. Both queer and women’s oppression are part of the same system of male
dominance, and as such we oppose the oppression of queer and transsexual people.
We know that race is a biological fiction for which there is no scientific basis, but that
racist oppression is a social reality. American racism is not just made up of racist
attitudes of individuals, but also of massive systemic and institutional forces that
reinforce and reproduce the oppression of workers of color.
We know that white privilege is real and that it benefits so-called white workers relative
to workers of color in ways both big and small, but because these privileges divide white
workers against workers of color (critically damaging the ability of the whole working
class to struggle for justice) it is contrary to the interest of white workers to defend
these privileges and in the interest of the entire working class to dismantle them.
We believe that in order to fight for justice and win revolution the working class must be
truly united. In order to really unite and not just brush aside the issues that divide the
large and multiracial working class, it is crucial that we build deep and genuine
anti-racism within the class. We also believe that the single best way to do this is to
grow real solidarity over the course of common struggle. We utterly reject the idea that
people are inherently racist, and we believe that just as racism is socially learned, it
can be socially unlearned. Within our organizations, we should be actively working to
break down the barriers that racism has created.
As anarchists, we encourage all people to fight their oppression in ways they think best,
but we also specifically seek to build multiracial mass movements of the working class
because we think that only such movements are truly capable of winning. We reject the idea
that racism can be destroyed by a cross-class alliance of all people of color. Racism can
best be smashed by an anti-racist working class revolution.
Ability, Disability and Ableism
We oppose hierarchies and judgments of human worth based upon differences in physical or
mental ability, structure or functioning. We reject the idea of a single “ideal” type of
human, and oppose and condemn the ideas of eugenics and social Darwinism. Everyone has
the right to be accepted and understood on their own terms, and should not have to live
with the labels imposed externally by others.
As capitalism only values those who can help create a profit, those who cannot help make a
profit due to physical or mental differences often are stigmatized, locked out of the
workforce, impoverished, denied care and made homeless. We seek an Anarchist-Communist
society where everyone is fully materially supported and free to contribute to society in
their own way.
In relation to mental ability, we support the idea of mental diversity, and strongly
suspect that many individuals diagnosed with “mental illnesses” are simply labeled such
because an authoritarian society is unable to tolerate diversity. However, we also
recognize that many of these differences can clearly cause significant impairment of life
functioning and are experienced as illness, and we support full availability of mental
health services (including early childhood intervention) free of charge. These services
should be able to be provided without causing fear of stigma, which stems from the
implicit hierarchical models of ability and disability embedded in our culture. To the
extent that individuals or groups feel that the labels implicit in mental health treatment
are dehumanizing, disempowering, and disrespectful of their autonomy, then the mental
health profession serves as an instrument of social control rather than as healing. We
seek a society in which those with special needs are cared for in a manner which respects
As “disability” and “ability” are often designations which can change depending on social
context, we strive to make Rochester Red and Black and the other organizations with which
we work maximally accessible for all people. We work to avoid ableist language which
privileges those with certain kinds of health and ability by implicitly putting down those
who are different.
We oppose all forms of nationalism, which we define as movements based on a common
identity advocating separatism, supremacy, or the formation of a nation or nation-state
that enforces that identity on the population. This can take the form of ethnic,
religious, or cultural separatism, whether used in terms of modern governmental bodies or
alternative groupings of peoples. We do support the necessity of the full expression of
the multiplicity of cultural identity, and believe that this richness is inherent to
diversity internationally. We do not support national liberation movements that identify
with the nation state or employ class collaboration, but instead support
self-determination for oppressed peoples, the defeat of imperialism, freedom from
oppression for people on occupied lands, and solidarity between the international working
class. Through this we support the elimination of all political borders, amnesty for
“illegal” peoples residing in countries that do not recognize their legal status, and an
internationalist tendency that sees the importance for working class unity across the
globe without divisions based on national identity.
Our view on the environment is biocentrism: the idea that our natural world is more than
just itemized resource extraction and that it has the right and necessity to exist on its
own. Humanity should not attempt to dominate the environment, as the industrial
capitalist mode of production dictates, and it is not simply for our utility. Capitalism
alienates us from the natural world and how our institutions are actively destroying it.
This remains a crisis of capitalism, where its principles of perpetual growth cannot be in
line with sustainability and a connection to the Earth. Just as with poverty and war,
capitalism requires environmental devastation to function. Within this system of
environmental attack, working class populations, indigenous groups, and people of color
experience a greater immediate impact from this catastrophe because of their forced
marginalization. We understand that social transformation is crucial for moving toward a
true ecological balance, and this cannot be regulated purely toward any type of lifestyle
changes, technological innovation, or broad attacks on technology.
We are committed to the organizational principles of federalism in that we support the
free association of individuals and organizations, as well as the balance between autonomy
and unity. This freedom to associate between individuals and groups will also mean the
freedom to disassociate at will, allowing communities and organizations to understand
their own needs and meet these according to their own character. This is different than
organizations that use centralism, where a centralized groups dictates for a range of
regional organization ideology and practices. We see this as unable to meet the needs of
the community or represent the diversity that those communities may hold, and therefore
centralism takes on authoritarian modes that we identify with statist politics. Instead
we support direct democracy and decentralism in an effort to keep people as directly
involved in the decision making process both in the organization and the larger
socio-political landscape. Through this we work with other groups and federations through
commonalities, yet reserve our own distinctive group dynamic.
Constitution For Rochester Red and Black
1. Members are those who 1) agree to the Principles of Unity (Platform), 2) pay
regular dues, and 3) actively participate in the work of the organization.
a. Rights of Members:
i. Each Member has the right to equal voice and vote within the organization.
ii. Each Member has the right to minority opinions, provided that they do not work to
subvert the organization.
iii. Each Member has the right to make Proposals, including Amendments.
iv. Each Member has the right to form caucuses, factions, or other friendly
associations within the organization.
b. Expectations of Membership:
i. Each Member is expected to actively participate in the work of the organization
and to be accountable to the rest of the organization.
ii. Each Member is expected to pay income contingent dues equal to:
$5-18 per month for those who make under $2,000 per month.
$18-27 per month for those who make between $2,000 and $3,000 per month
$27-50 per month for those who make over $3,500 per month
Fund raising activities may occasionally be organized as well, and members are welcome to
make additional financial contributions to the organization at any time.
iii. Each Member is expected to operate honestly and in good faith both within the
organization and in broader struggle.
iv. Each Member is expected to work to continually develop themselves as an agent of
struggle through skill-based training, movement education, and critical reflection upon
v. Each Member will minimally attend 9 of 12 monthly General Assemblies and 6 of 12
monthly Educational Events. This is not meant as a draconian measure to enforce party
discipline (and the membership certainly reserves the right to make allowances for special
cases- in a truly democratic organization nothing is set permanently in stone). However,
in order to function as an organization which can have quorum for votes (also an essential
feature of a democratic organization), we must know that we can rely on our members to be
present at meetings.
2. Supporters are those who 1) agree to the Principles of Unity and 2) pay some dues.
a. Rights of Supporters:
i. Each Supporter has the right to equal voice within the organization.
ii. Each Supporter has the right to minority opinions, provided that they do not work
to subvert the organization.
iii. Each Supporter has the right to make Proposals, including Amendments.
iv. Each Supporter has the right to make inquiries of the organization.
v. Each Supporter has the right to vote on major alterations to the organization’s
Principles of Unity, Constitution, or Bylaws.
b. Expectations of Supporters:
i. Each Supporter is expected to contribute financially to the organization.
ii. Each Supporter is expected to operate honestly and in good faith both within the
organization and in broader struggle.
iii. Each Supporter is generally expected to participate in educational programs of
3. Becoming a Member
a. Applicant must state their intention to become a member. At this point they will
be considered a Trial Member. Trial Members will have the Expectations of Members (except
dues) and the Rights of Supporters.
b. At the next business meeting after candidacy is announced, current Members may
vote to grant Membership or not, a 75% majority being needed to grant membership.
c. If Membership is not granted, Applicant has the right to hear objections, to
address them, and to request a second vote.
4. Expelling a Member
a. Charges/Grounds for expulsion:
i. A member’s politics or behavior is incompatible with the Principles of Unity.
ii. A member has knowingly subverted the work of the organization.
iii. Significant failure to fulfill the Expectations of Membership.
b. Rights of the Charged:
i. If a Member’s expulsion is proposed, said Member has the right to know the
Charge(s) and by whom their expulsion was proposed.
ii. No member may be expelled in absentia or without notification.
iii. The Charged will retain the full Rights and Expectations of Membership until
expulsion is complete.
c. Process: Once Expulsion is proposed, the Charged has the right to argue against
their expulsion, but must abstain from the vote. A 50%+1 majority of ALL Members
(excluding the Charged) is needed for expulsion.
General Decision-Making Processes
1. Quorum: 50%+1 of all Members.
2. Process: After a Proposal is introduced, Members and Supporters will have the
opportunity to voice any initial questions, thoughts, or concerns with the proposal. This
will be followed by open discussion/debate including the proposal of amendments. The
discussion should seek to address all possible concerns or objections before moving on,
our first best choice always being unanimity. If an impasse is reached, a member may
suggest putting the proposal to a vote. If 50%+1 of present members agree to move to a
vote, then a 2/3 majority vote is needed for the proposal to pass.
3. Amendments can be added to a proposal by a 50%+1 vote or by finding no objections.
4. In-meeting process decisions such as tabling, prioritizing, or setting a time for
an agenda item, if contested, will decided by a 50%+1 vote.
5. Major Alterations to the Principles of Unity, Constitution, or Bylaws require a
75% majority of ALL members to pass. If 50%+1 of Supporters oppose the Alteration(s), then
a unanimous vote of ALL members is required to pass.
Secretary: The secretary is tasked with keeping up communications for the organization,
ensuring that meetings are well-organized, and helping to orient new members to the
workings of the organization.
Treasurer: The treasurer is tasked with accounting for the income and expenditures of the
organization, collecting and keeping record of membership dues, and keeping track of
Elections: Delegates are elected through the regular decision-making process.
Recall: Delegates may also be recalled through the regular decision-making process for
Term: The regular term for a position is six months. No one person may hold the same
position for more than two years consecutively.
Education: The education committee is tasked with maintaining a regular program of
internal education for organization membership. This educational programming should
consist of a mix of theoretical, practical organizing, and current events issues.
Newsletter: The newsletter committee is tasked with the creation and distribution of a
monthly organizational newsletter that will address an anarchist perspective on the
current political atmosphere, as well as updates about ongoing organizing efforts.
General Assembly: The first Thursday of each month will be the decision making and
business meeting of the organization. All organizational proposals are to be brought, in
writing, to this meeting.
Educational Meeting: The third Thursday of each month will be an educational discussion,
to focus on theoretical, practical organizing, or current event issues. These discussions
can be public or member-only, as decided by the General Assembly.
Emergency Meetings: Emergency meetings can be called by the Secretary or Treasurer with
at least 24 hours notice. Voting at this meeting still requires quorum.
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