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(en) New ONWARD out now! Sample article attached

From dan <dan@mutualaid.org>
Date Sun, 27 Oct 2002 05:58:06 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

The Fall issue of ONWARD is out now! This issue features a Sept. 11
anniversary statement by the Revolutionary Association of the Women of
Afghanistan, information on the Plan Pueblo Panama and on the US PATRIOT
Act, and news from around the world! We devote much space to anarchist
and other radical organizations, highlight two new anti-authoritarian
(con)federations in North America and several existing groups: an
important analysis of the Challenging White Supremacy workshop in San
Francisco; a special look at Argentina's popular rebellion, and a look
at the problems and prospects of broad-based movement building in

There is also a special prison focus this issue, with an analysis of the
Anarchist Black Cross Network conference, a history of the Anarchist
Black Cross, and an article from a prisoner on prison solidarity.

The centerfold, Organizing for a Classless Society, features a special
interview with activist and author Max Elbuam on lessons from the 1970s
New Communist Movement. (The full text of this interview is available
from our website.) The centerfold also features two other strategic
articles on anti-capitalist analysis and organizing.

As always, the opinion and theory sections feature the latest in
anarchist strategy and thinking. In addition to the article below by
ONWARD co-editor Rob Augman, Fighting to Win: Sufficient Strategies for
Moving Forward, this issue features articles on anti-racist organizing,
the need for having a sense of humor in our work and lives, and on
crossing and destroying literal and metaphoric borders. The letters
section includes lively debate on important movement topics from
primitivism to fascism to democratic socialism.

We are still in the process of updating our website with the current
issue. Keep checking. It should be done soon and, like always, will
feature several sample articles from this issue: www.onwardnewspaper.org.
To order this or previous issues, send $2 for a single issue or $7-10 for
a subscription ($10-13 outside US) to:
PO Box 2671
Gainesville FL 32602-2671

For distribution, check our website or contact us. Checks/money orders
can be made out to Onward or well-concealed cash is fine.

There are also important changes taking place in the paper. After the
Winter 2002-2003 issue, the paper will be leaving Florida and changing
editorial hands. For more information, contact us or check out the next

In Solidarity and Struggle,

Fighting to Win: Sufficient Strategies for Moving Forward
By Rob Augman

    In our long-term struggles for a free society, our present organizing
must reflect our long-term vision. Not only must it reflect such
vision, it must also be our vehicle for moving us closer to such
vision. As anarchists, our goal of a self-governed society, where we
can directly organize social life from the bottom-up according to
ethical criteria, must be at the heart of our efforts. But in the
current context where all forms of social struggle are co-opted or
defeated by the state and capitalism, we face the difficult task of
building a movement that takes us toward our long-term vision. Many
people around the world are struggling to fight off exploitation and
oppression. But the project of ?building the new society in the shell
of the old? must be a major part of our efforts if we are to truly
transcend hierarchical society. This task is a challenging one for
organizers across the globe.
    The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) has been getting a lot of
attention from the anarchist movement as of late. And rightly so,
because OCAP, a 14 year-old direct action organization, has used a
popular and confrontational approach in fighting extremities of
capitalist exploitation. And they have been largely successful!
    OCAP was born from anti-poverty activism in the late 1980?s and came
into a formal organization in 1990. Due to the earlier movement?s
success in forcing changes through popular mobilization and
direct-confrontation, OCAP made that strategy its basis and chose not
to engage in consultation and compromise with those in power. It
commits itself to mobilizing poor and homeless people to fight back
through militant, direct action. OCAP developed what they call ?direct
action casework.? They mobilize people to fill welfare offices, build
tent cities, stop deportations, prevent evictions, compel employers to
pay wages they owe, take over empty buildings to open them for
housing, and stand up against police violence. OCAP mobilizes those
effected by state and capitalist oppression in the struggle against
it, and uses direct confrontation as their main tactic. It?s no wonder
anarchists are organizing in OCAP, talking about OCAP, and learning
from OCAP. As a successful grassroots, direct-action force for social
change, they provide concrete ways for making change in our everyday
lives. And while the anarchist movement has been quite successful in
winning the battle of ideas on the Left in the last couple years,
there remains the need to make our movement more tangibly meaningful
on the local front. As OCAP has shown, by winning actual gains, our
movement opens up to the needs of our communities and the possibility
of building a broader movement emerges that can put its politics on
the ground and take steps forward.
    In his article Fighting to Win: Anarchists and the Ontario Coalition
Against Poverty (The Northeastern Anarchist, Spring/Summer 2002
issue), OCAP member and Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists
supporter Jeff Shantz spells out the relevance of OCAP to the
anarchist movement. Shantz says OCAP and anarchists share an
anti-capitalist perspective as well as a direct action strategy. While
anarchists and OCAP share these characteristics, it is the way in
which such politics and strategies are constituted in our organizing
that determines whether or not we are moving closer to our long-term
    One way that OCAP puts an anti-capitalist politics and a direct
action, confrontational strategy into play is their struggles around
housing issues. For example, they help secure housing for people who
need it by taking direct action to reclaim unused buildings and turn
them into livable places.
    By pointing to the utter failure of state and capitalist institutions
to provide housing for people who need it, these actions help
illustrate the unethical nature of the state and capitalism. By
mobilizing those effected to take direct action themselves, rather
than begging the system for change, OCAP plays an important role in
radicalizing and empowering those most effected by class oppression to
utilize cooperative means in securing necessities of life. And by
pushing beyond the particular action toward a broader vision of a
world where people come together freely to act cooperatively to
provide housing (and everything else) for everyone who needs it, OCAP
plays an important role in popularizing the call for a free society.
The state?s reaction of using police force to evict the squatters
shows the state as a coldly unethical and uncaring institution that
would rather provide jail cells than homes. By mobilizing wide
sections of society into action, OCAP builds a broad movement that is
essential to our social goals of a popular revolution from below.
    As successful as OCAP has been in their housing takeovers and other
actions, they have had to accept a lot of compromises. They?ve had to
accept what the state and capitalist institutions offer them. As many
of us have, OCAP has had to compromise their long-term vision of a
free society in the day-to-day work they do of winning minor but
necessary reforms. Instead of creating a new way forward, such
victories are absorbed by the institutions we?re fighting against. And
in the end the state and capitalism receive recognition for our hard
work and legitimize their existence by showing their responsiveness
and adaptability to the needs of the people. They remain strong and
our movement?s power and utility are dissolved. It?s back to business
as usual until we mobilize again.
    In this way, direct action serves to change policy not power. It
serves as an alternative style of organizing for those fed up with
statist means. A direct action strategy and anti-capitalist politics
ends up building the welfare state rather than a free society. Because
we abhor this contradiction, we paint anti-capitalist rhetoric over
our actions to spell out to the public what they were meant to convey.
This use of direct action, as necessary as it may be in softening the
blow of capitalist oppression, does not lead us toward our long-term
vision of a free society. But direct action holds the principle of
direct democracy. It illustrates this when people get directly
involved in issues or policies that effect their lives - when they
stop an eviction or deportation, stand up to police violence, or
reclaim housing. But to push direct action beyond an illustrative tool
that shows direct democracy, to become a vehicle for building direct
democracy is how we must direct our energies if we want to actualize
our long-term vision. This means transforming not only the way our
actions are structured, but transforming the power structures that
determine what society looks like. Reforms can certainly play a key
role in reaching our goals, just as popular mobilizations from the
grassroots can. The project of transforming power must be at the heart
of our efforts. The anarchist idea must become realized in the
anarchist struggle.
    Instead of handing our victories over to the institutions we
ultimately seek to eliminate, we have to put our effort into
strategies that will allow us to weaken such institutions, and build
alternatives to them that can become our own and can grow to
ultimately challenge the very existence of the state and capitalism
altogether, taking us into a new historical era that can lead us
toward a free society. By pointing this out we are asking ?what forms
of organizing will allow us to fight injustice and exploitation while
simultaneously build a free society??
    A free society rests not only on the elimination of the state and
capitalism but also on the introduction of egalitarian forms of
organizing society. If we oppose the current model of organization
where social, political, and economic decisions are made at tiers
above us according to capitalist principles, what do we propose in
their place? What institutions can give form to a free society? What
forms allow communities to be self-governing? Direct democracy allows
all community members the freedom to participate in deciding the fate
of our communities. By coming together in community assemblies we are
able to make decisions in a face-to-face way and in a collective
manner. We create a space whereby self-government can take form. This
eliminates the need for professional politicians and bureaucratic
apparatuses that serve the interests of capitalism and domination. In
popular assemblies, all community concerns can be addressed in an open
and democratic way. Policies on all aspects of social life - including
housing issues - can be organized in a way congruent with our ethics
of mutual aid and solidarity. These assemblies constitute a new
political sphere where politics is a part of a rich community life.
    But communities do not exist on their own. They play an interrelated
role on all the communities around them. Therefore, direct democracy
must go hand in hand with a confederal structure whereby mandated,
recallable, and rotated delegates take community policies up to a
confederal level to coordinate the decisions made at the community
level. This vision of popular self-government enables all people to
decide on the issues that effect their lives, rather than being
subordinated to market forces, professional politicians, and other
forms of hierarchical control.
    This long-term goal of a self-governing society must be made from our
present reality. If we really want to get there, we must ask
ourselves: what are sufficient strategies for moving forward?
    Because we do not believe that the free society is right around the
corner, we have to use strategies that gain us victories that we can
build on incrementally. It is not enough to build only in numbers and
to reclaim the streets like we do in mass actions, hoping one day
we?ll have the whole world on the streets and that institutions of
domination will just disappear. A sufficient strategy must create new
forms of self-government that can challenge institutional forms of
hierarchy and domination.
    New institutions that allow popular power to take form at the
community level, where we can begin challenging the state and
capitalist institutions themselves with a counterpower of our own, is
a necessary component of taking us beyond our current situation. This
popular power can exist in the abstract world, but must be
institutionalized into tangible forms which do not disappear after an
action. These popular institutions will be our vehicle to build on,
ones we can give more and more power, resources, legitimacy, and
radical direction to as we go. This allows us to put our long-term
political vision into a tangible organizing form in the present. And
it provides a way to move beyond our own organizations and begin
organizing society as a whole. It opens up the door for a truly
democratic movement to emerge to challenge state and capitalist
institutions in concrete and visible ways.
    As anarchists, we know that the housing crisis can not be solved
without the elimination of the state and capitalism. Our organizing
should reflect that, not simply by saying so but by doing so. To truly
solve the housing crisis, our strategies must go beyond winning
housing (concessions the state and capitalist institutions can afford)
and seek to loosen the state and capitalism?s grip on housing by
creating new forms of power from the bottom-up that are open,
democratic, and egalitarian and that can be guided by ethical
concerns. Such a form of popular power can begin to determine housing
issues for ourselves. But it is essential that we work to build such
popular institutions where communities can take an active role in the
    While it is possible for relatively small organizations to take direct
action by reclaiming buildings and turning them into housing units,
such power remains hidden inside the particular organization and
remains unaccountable to the broader community. By opening up
assemblies where whole communities can take direct action, we open up
a new arena of power, one that is inclusive to all the members of our
communities. We begin to build an anarchist community struggle beyond
the anarchist organizations. By functioning in such a way, and by
making policy that addresses community issues and enriches community
life, we begin to constitute a moral power in conflict with the
dominant power of state and capitalism. This allows us a starting
point where we can build a broader, inclusive movement that can be
self-directed - addressing food, land use, health, ecology, and every
other concern of our communities in an ethical and egalitarian way.
    This movement will be ignored, ridiculed, and attacked by the
hierarchical institutions because it constitutes a real moral and
practical threat to the elitist and exclusive nature of the
hierarchical institutions. This should be a tension that emerges into
a dual power situation where the forms of popular self-government try
to enlarge their influence and legitimacy over the right to govern. We
must not shy away from the conflict with the hierarchical
institutions, nor allow our popular institutions to be incorporated
into hierarchical society. Our goals are at odds with hierarchy, and
it must make such conflict clear and visible. It must hollow out
hierarchical institutions of their power, legitimacy, and resources by
bringing it over to our popular institutions. Such a dual power seeks
to eliminate hierarchical power by replacing it with popular power.
This can lay the groundwork for the long struggle of building a free
society. Without such an arena where communities can construct a new
way of organizing our lives together, we allow our victories to be
taken from us and incorporated into state and capitalist frameworks,
and we miss the chance to move past the current state of hierarchy and
domination that rule our lives.
    The long-term vision of a free society is a popularly self-governed
one. To get there we must put our political vision into a strategy
that moves us toward it. Because our vision includes liberatory forms
of popular self-government, our strategies must try and build such
institutions today.
    These institutions can allow us a starting point for reclaiming power
by making decisions about our communities ourselves. By doing this, we
will pull power away from the hierarchical institutions of the state
and capitalism, and create a new form of social organization. By
empowering these institutions, we expand our role in determining the
fate of our lives, our communities, and the world we live in. But
unless we take on the project of building new forms of
self-government, our victories will continue to be eaten up by the
state and capitalism, and our efforts will serve only to make
capitalism and the state more humane. If we want to work towards a
world where humanity is able to self-direct itself toward ever-greater
degrees of freedom and cooperation, we must take the right steps today
in getting there.

Rob Augman is an organizer with the newly formed Alliance for Freedom and
Direct Democracy. He is also coeditor of ONWARD. You can contact him at
mvcot@hotmail.com or PO Box 2671 Gainesville, FL 32602-2671 U$A

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