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(en) US, The Red & Anarchist Action Network - RAAN - Principles and Direction I. (1/2)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://www.kazm.net/principles.html)
Date Wed, 2 Jul 2003 08:53:19 +0200 (CEST)

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

The Red & Anarchist Action Network is a loose organization of
autonomous individuals and collectives who subscribe to revolutionary
anarchist and libertarian (that is, anti-state, anti-Leninist) communist
ideals. The network was born out of a desire to bridge the artificial
gaps between segments of what might be described as the
"anti-political left" and dismantle the elitist "sceneism" that has
governed portions of the revolutionary movement for far too long. It is
our hope that a strong association based on shared revolutionary
beliefs and a variety of tactics, driven by a serious practice of mutual
aid, will be able to make a serious and lasting contribution both to our
world and the people who are working to better it.


I. Introduction

II. Principles and Direction

- Red & Anarchist Unity

- Collective Organization

- Communism
a. Marxism
b. Leninism

- Smash the State!
a. Democracy

- Anti-Racism

- Anti-Sexism

- Queer Liberation

- Environmentalism
a. Animal Liberation & Veganism
b. Protection of the Earth

- Children's Liberation
a. Education Vs. Schooling

- Internationalism and the Fight Against Imperialism

- On Labor Unions

- Personal Liberation

- Action

III. Conclusion

RAAN Members in Washington, DC (April 2003)


This pamphlet was written over the course of several weeks by
numerous members of the RAAN online forum. After deciding on basic
structure and content, the founders of the project opened up a draft to
everyone involved in the network. Members then decided what issues
were most relevant to the subject, and set about giving form to the
document. Some contributed sentences while others contributed whole
paragraphs. Some helped more quietly by catching odd typos and
spelling errors. All donated their time to make sure that this document
was as clear as possible, and represented the group as best as it

Hence, this pamphlet serves as both a basic introduction to the
principles of the Red & Anarchist Action Network, and also as a living
example of those ideals put into action.

When the project was proposed, RAAN was a loose association of
people with views ranging from Stalinist to anarchist. Because of this,
there was a question as to if we really should formalize the project
with a statement of "shared principles". We anti-authoritarians in the
network felt that while it was acceptable to engage in informal
discussion with authoritarian-Leftists, (generally speaking, Leninists)
any transformation of the network into a "physical organization" would
be quite distasteful if these elements were allowed to remain. We
have done our best to reflect this.

We started work on this pamphlet with a very loose idea of where we
wanted to take it, and in the end wound up with something even more
general. This document was meant to be an introduction to RAAN for
those who were already involved in the radical anti-capitalist
movement. Nevertheless, along the way we felt it necessary to
establish our most basic positions on a variety of important (and
interrelated) issues. Unfortunately some important topics, such as the
abolition of prisons, were not touched upon at all. We hope to cover
these and other subjects in coming works, as well as in the day-to-day
discussion that makes up the network. The subjects we did touch upon
were only handled briefly due to concerns about length. As a result,
these quick summaries should in no way be taken as the definitive and
final positions of RAAN. Rather, see them as a series of introductions
which, taken together, may form a more complete view of our
constantly evolving organization.

Looking back on the process of writing these Principles & Direction, it
could be argued that formulating a "party programme" such as this will
prove to be the fatal mistake of the Network. This could be, but there
was a need for a written declaration of our existence that persuaded
even the anti-platformists amongst us to help in this project. We felt
that without this document, it would be impossible to turn our
aspirations into action; our associations into a real network.

If we have at any time failed to articulate our visions for this project, it
is only because we cannot find words for our joy in, and the totality of,
these revolutionary changes that we believe must occur. These
principles are a reminder of where the network comes from, but they
do not represent the entirety of the network itself. If all this
accomplishes is to help prevent us from falling apart over ideological
infighting, it will have been worth it. But we do not seek to make this
our "Little Red Book". The immediate relevance of RAAN to your
actual, everyday life is only that which you give it.

- Nachie
Co-founder of RAAN



The purpose of the Red & Anarchist Action Network, if it must be
summarized, is to concretely unite the far-left (including those
radicals who consider themselves to be outside of the
bourgeois-political spectrum) in the hopes of forming something
powerful enough to positively change every aspect of our lives.

RAAN was born over the Internet as a group of libertarian websites
(and their readers) who wished to form a collaborative alliance
through which we could build new paths and attain new success in our
struggle for a better world.

The (anti-state) communist and anarchist movements, often as a
result of ignorance, confusion, or historical conditions, have for too
long remained separate. Often allied, but not united; and at times even
distrustful of each other. And yet history has shown us that when they
are united, they form the most penetrating and complete analysis of
the world we live in, as well as the most promising and realistic vision
for changing it.

As is often the case, the solution to a problem one is faced with may
be revealed during the process of simply confronting it. Confident in
this, we sought first to unite anarchists and communists in discussion,
using the Internet as a facilitating tool. This was done prior to any
statement of purpose, and the description of our group was never
clarified beyond "anarchist and communist unity". As a result of this
strategy, comradely discussion, solidarity, and often, debate had been
going on amongst those involved with RAAN for almost three months
before the idea of a written statement of principles was even brought

We are certain that this base of discourse will now serve to make our
founding document much stronger than it would have otherwise been.


Being an alliance comprised of communists and anarchists, it is
essential that RAAN both condemn all forms of hierarchy and
organize itself in a collective manner that embodies our hopes for
autonomous organization.

When we began, RAAN was brought to life through an Internet
message board, which provided us with a practical way to conduct
discussions and also to bring together many different currents of
thought from all over the world.

Unlike an organization of the traditional "Left", where a militant's role
may be limited only to recruiting new membership and selling a party
newspaper, (the contents of which she probably had no say in) the
online forum was able to give every member a voice and a direct
channel to air their opinions. RAAN participants were able to choose
their own levels of involvement in the project, and influence it through
contributions to a variety of discussions and efforts. Comrades
involved in the organization need not wait for any "Central Committee"
to call a convention in order to be exposed to new ideas, as the
continual discussion of relevant issues - and the mutual learning that
accompanies it - is always occurring and indeed, driving, the network.
This is exceptionally important to remember as we begin to organize in
the "real world".

In terms of the technical operations and functions of the network,
RAAN holds a certain affinity towards what has come to be known as
"The Platform". The Organizational Platform of the Libertarian
Communists, written in 1926 by a group of exiled Russian anarchists,
has proven to be a valuable addition to the ongoing development of
non-hierarchal organizations. This does not mean, however, that
RAAN is a "platformist" group. To chain the network to a single
theoretical basis would be to simultaneously exclude ourselves from
whole tendencies of anarchist and communist thought that, assuming
that we refer only to the anti-authoritarian variety, all have things to

That said, we strive to build an association of radicals that can
function physically as well as formally when it has to. By "formally",
we mean nothing more menacing than to simply allow the participants
to easily communicate/cooperate with each other. So with this in mind,
the four organizational points upon which The Platform rests are;

Theoretical Unity

"All activity by the General Union, both overall and in its details,
should be in perfect concord with the theoretical principles professed
by the Union."

This fundamental point of anarchist organization is embodied in this
pamphlet; which seeks to provide the network with a general concept
of principles. Through this we establish the purpose of RAAN and its
actions, which are decided by all participants.

Furthermore, we believe that theoretical unity can only be achieved
through collective discussion, the very foundation upon which our
network is based.

Tactical Unity or The Collective Method of Action

"A common tactical line in the movement is of decisive importance for
the existence of the organization and the whole movement: it removes
the disastrous effect of several tactics in opposition to one another, it
concentrates all the forces of the movement, gives them a common
direction leading to a fixed objective."

We agree with this, and we do not.

The "common tactical line" of the Red & Anarchist Action Network is
for those involved to engage in only the activities that they believe to
be personally fulfilling and worthwhile. This approach is the only
logical way to unite our different tendencies, and will inevitably lead to
what we see as a glorious variety of tactics.

Collective Responsibility

"...The entire Union will be responsible for the political and
revolutionary activity of each member; in the same way, each member
will be responsible for the political and revolutionary activity of the
Union as a whole."

For more on how this may or may not directly apply to the daily life of
the Network, see the section entitled "Action".


"...The federalist type of anarchist organization, while recognizing
each member's rights to independence, free opinion, individual liberty
and initiative, requires each member to undertake fixed organizational
duties, and demands execution of communal decisions."

It is on this principle that we find ourselves most divided. To be clear,
RAAN is not a formal organization to which one "belongs", but a
banner under which we associate with others and carry out actions
that we judge as being worthwhile to our immediate lives.
Nevertheless, the successful operation of the network as an organized
grouping of like-minded and cooperating activists does depend on our
ability to act as such.

All participants in the project are expected to have their own ideas and
personal stances on any number of issues. These opinions will, in
conjunction with the opinions of the other members, ultimately form a
unified position around which the network may rally; this pamphlet is a
first step in that direction. Members of RAAN are expected to, when
speaking for or representing the organization, act accordingly and
present the common position.

The remainder of this pamphlet should be read with the above points in
mind, as they are the guidelines by which we shape our collective
organization and act in its name.


"We use the word 'communism' as shorthand - despite the likelihood
that it will confuse some people who will think that we are talking
about the so-called former 'communist' countries or the communist
parties associated with or supporting those countries - because we
don't have a better word. The political currents we feel a degree of
affinity with have called themselves many sorts of things -
libertarian-communists, anarchist-communists, left-communists,
autonomists - what could broadly be described as the 'ultra-left'." -
John Gray

"Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established,
an ideal to which reality will have to adjust itself. We call communism
the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The
conditions of this movement result from premises now in existence." -
Karl Marx

The position of the Red & Anarchist Action Network towards
communism (that is, our understanding of it as a fundamental principle
of RAAN) can best be summarized in an article written by "Jeff" (also
known as commie zero zero in some circles) for Issue 11 of the
anarchist publication Red and Black Notes. The relevant sections of
the article, titled Five Theses on Anarchism and Communism, are
reprinted below;

1. I feel the 'anarchist tradition' has had a tendency to engage in 'power
reductionism,' just as the 'Marxist tradition' has had a tendency to
engage in 'economic reductionism.' The trouble with this approach is
that, in both Marxism and anarchism, such reductionism has had a
tendency to limit the ability to make an analysis of the whole problem
we face; it tends to create a situation wherein the culprit is sought in
only one area of the whole problem.

2. Historically, we can say from our current point of view, this
approach has turned out to be advantageous in that, generally
speaking, they have analyzed the two major seemingly distinct sides
of the capitalist system: on one side there is a movement of people
analyzing power structures, the state, etc.; on the other side there is a
movement of people analyzing economic structures, the class system,
etc. These two sides have often overlapped (i.e. class struggle
anarchists and council communists), but they have also often stood
bitterly opposed for various reasons, some well founded some not.
However, we are now facing, as Marx basically predicted, the
globalization of capital, and thus it is high time a truly communist
perspective emerged, utilizing both sides of the analysis, bringing
them up to date, and making them a starting point for the development
of a multi-faceted and open-ended analysis of the whole. I feel that
only through such a unification is a truly revolutionary theoretical
behavior possible.

3. In most of the world, however, we face a serious problem in using
the word 'communist.' Due in part to the propaganda of the
ruling-class, based on Leninist deviations, this word has become
synonymous with state-controlled capitalism, and the totalitarian
tendencies and structures therein. Thus, people have thought of
several adjectives to use to modify the term, so that it takes on its
true character: "anti-state", "libertarian", "anarchist", "free",
"autonomist", etc. This hyphenation is good for shorthand when there
isn't the time to explain that one is "not that kind of communist", or
that "what people normally call communism isn't really communism in
any way, shape or form."

4. There is no such thing as 'authoritarian communism', nor an
'authoritarian communist.' As the root of the word communism
suggests, communism must have at its heart communal activity. In
other words activity, free from the constraints of authoritarianism, in
which each person is involved directly and equally. Thus, 'authoritarian
communists' (Leninists, Trotskyists, Stalinists, Maoists, Bolsheviks,
etc.) are not communists at all. Their ideas, based as they are in the
capitalist social relation of hierarchies, which culminate in the state,
have only reproduced in the former Soviet Union, China, etc.,
capitalism in a state-controlled form.

5. Communism, due to its anti-authoritarian nature, means the
destruction of the state. Even Marx, from whom Leninists and others
claim to take their cue, knew this fact. Thus it is unnecessary to
modify the word communism with such adjectives as anarchist,
libertarian, anti-state, free, autonomist, etc. Communism includes all
of these when understood in its true meaning. Unfortunately, we face
a situation in which the deliberate obscuring of the term by the
ruling-classes and their various states, based in the deviations
perpetuated by Leninists and others, forces us to use these redundant
words to emphasize what we stand for. Thus it is really important as
part of theoretical and propaganda work to undermine the
ruling-class/Leninist misuse of the word and re-appropriate
'communism' for its proper use. However, among us are people who
identify as anarchist, libertarian Marxist, council communist, just
communist, or none of these terms. But we are, and must be, united by
(as far as we understand it at this point) truly communist

Emphasis has been added by RAAN. The full work, which includes the
above as well as a quick introduction by Jeff, can be found at

Written later by the same author;

Marx understood 'communism' to be the conscious and unconscious
struggle against alienation and for community. Which, when drawn
further, means that 'communism' is not some utopia to be gained far
into the future, but is embodied now in the conscious and unconscious
struggles we make to de-alienate ourselves. And since capitalism
(and class society in general) is intrinsically alienating (due to its
inherent hierarchies, exchange-mediations, etc.), these struggles
necessarily bring us into conflict with it and lay the basis for a
possible, new post-capitalist society based in the community (or
communities) of "free social individual[s]" (Marx, Grundrisse).

RAAN finds itself in full agreement with the above principles and
definitions, and regards our continued use of the term "communism" in
its true sense as being an attack on both the general capitalist order
and the authoritarian elements of the "Left".

That said, we must reiterate that RAAN does not consider itself a
"communist organization" anymore than it considers itself an
"anarchist organization". RAAN supporters and "members" are
feminists, (anti-state) Marxists, autonomists, councilists,
anti-fascists, liberationists, situationists, and anarchists of all colors
and (self-)classifications.


The essence of RAAN will never belong to any bearded philosopher of
the past, but to the present-day militants whose actions give the
network its life and physical existence.

While RAAN is not a "Marxist" organization per se, we do not write
off Karl Marx as many in the past have irresponsibly done, and instead
welcome all anti-state and libertarian Marxists as comrades in our
struggle (note that several of the founding members of RAAN are
self-described Marxists). The works of Marx continue to present us
with a vital and comprehensive understanding of the world we live in.

"Although we are not a political party, we deem it impossible to
achieve a social change without the future development of a
revolutionary party: not any party, but the one expected in the
Communist Manifesto. Such an organization cannot be 'established' or
'built', but it will spring from the clash of great forces pushed by the
contradictions of capitalism itself. Deep economical and social
upheavals, or even a general warfare, will make these enormous
potentialities rise.

"The term 'party' does not mean a mere political structure, but the
absolute antithesis of any organizing form so far expressed by class
societies. According to Marx, the revolutionary concept of
organization has to be consistent with the future of mankind, and not
take old organizations as a model, even those which were actually
revolutionary in the past." - The n+1 group

(and by extension, Trotskyism, Stalinism, Maoism, etc.)

"The working class is increasingly closed and compact internally, and
searches within itself to articulate its ever greater unity in
organization ... today the whole working class in struggle is the
vanguard." - Toni Negri

If there have indeed been problems between communists and
anarchists in the past, then Leninism has played no small part in
fomenting them. True communists, who have always opposed
hierarchies and the state, have long struggled to set the historical
record straight in regards to the co-opting of Marx's "legacy" (and
indeed, the very word communism!) by those who would wish to use it
as a mask behind which to carry on with their statist and authoritarian
schemes. As a result, we are committed to a full and uncompromising
rejection of vanguardism.

As spelled out above, RAAN does not recognize Leninists as being
communists, or even Marxists; but the worst perverters of these
tendencies. In attempting to create true red and black (that is,
communist and anarchist) unity, it is necessary to clearly exclude
sundry authoritarians who may otherwise pose a threat to the original
direction of the organization. RAAN is also committed towards
upholding what we see as the true and original tradition of

Over the course of writing this platform, several Leninists and
Trotskyists (who had mistakenly joined the project thinking that
RAAN would be accepting to their ideologies) attempted to hijack the
process by injecting their particular bourgeois dogmas and historical
falsifications into it. As a result of the ensuing debate, it became clear
to us that, in dealing with red and anarchist unity, we would at all
times have to be very specific as to what we defined as "red"; and
even more so as to what we did not define as red. Therefore, this
section has been expanded on in order to reflect this and make clear
our positions towards those in the authoritarian Left.

Although some members of RAAN may hold sympathy for some of
Lenin's ideas, the network will always remain free of both hierarchy
and elitist vanguardism. We believe this to be the best defense
against Leninism.


We see arrayed before us the modern bourgeois state, supreme
defender of the capitalist system. It coerces us into voting by
promising that change is possible "from the inside", it imprisons and
shoots us when we dare to rise against it, and most hideous of all, it
ensures the sanctity of private property and authority by its very
purpose and existence.

But the state is only a physical representation of the system of
hierarchies we live under in everyday life. These hierarchies are
themselves an extension of capitalism, since social relations of
competition must inevitably force us into castes of rulers and ruled.
Any critique of the capitalist system that fails to take this into
account is destined either for failure or authoritarianism. All
hierarchies, whether they are found in the workplace, the classroom,
the political organization, or even (and especially) our personal
relationships, must be dismantled if our "free association of human
beings" is to take root.

Our new society will be driven by the cooperation and mutual aid of
dedicated individuals, not the dictates of any "Proletarian" party,
state, or other authoritative structure.

(Or, on rejecting capitalist state democracy)

"...Being a communist cannot mean aspiring to capture the State and
to substitute a new power which would be a just, fair power, the
reasonable rational power of the communists - or of those using the
name of communism - in contrast to the unjust power of the
bourgeoisie. We do not work for the triumph of a new programme, that
is, for the triumph of politics because the triumph of politics and with it
the triumph of the State has already been realized before our very eyes
- by the capitalist class." - M; The Communist Tendency in History

Democracy is the bourgeois principle of "citizenship" or the "general
will", which denies class struggle and demands that all lawful
members of society have an equal role in administration. It therefore
assures the rule of the bourgeoisie, who, by the very fact of their
existence, are economically, and therefore politically, dominant.

The fascist and liberal regimes, and all the variants in between,
represent two parties within democracy, which differ only in terms of
the strategies they employ in attacking and controlling the working
class, and which become less and less in conflict as democracy is
perfected. Proletarian struggle, because it necessarily rejects the
interests and influence of the bourgeoisie and denies the myth of the
classless "people", is anti-democratic and therefore criminal from a
democratic standpoint; as such, it may be legally repressed in the
most despotic fashion by the bourgeois state. Fetishization of
democracy as a cure for state abuses is in fact a call for a more
efficient, and more thoroughly oppressive, capitalism.

The organizational formalities of democracy, whereby the criteria for
decisions is approval by constituents thrown together by the myth of
citizenship, are fine-tuned towards allowing capitalism to operate with
the express consent and collaboration of the working class.
Democratic pluralism, which apparently allows previously oppressed
constituencies to be represented in the state, in fact cloaks the
fundamental class division of humanity. By designating proletarians as
"citizens" on equal political footing with their masters, and culling
their consent for class oppression, democracy is truly totalitarian.

After the destruction of the state, the bourgeoisie will no longer hold
any political power. However, it will still exist, along with its influence
over sectors of the proletariat. Bourgeois tendencies will be made
manifest and must be denied freedom of propaganda and be excluded
from the proletarian dictatorship. To call this "proletarian democracy"
is simply meaningless; democracy is a principle originating from the
bourgeois liberal tradition, which has always based itself on the
abstraction of "the people".

Furthermore, the notion of a representative government transcendent
from its subjects, whether it is to be composed of multiple bourgeois
parties or a single "workers' party", is a bourgeois one. No militants
are capable of applying the revolutionary programme in all aspects,
and therefore leading others, without being fully accountable to the
collective organism of the revolution. As such, their role must be
considered transitory and subject to replacement at any time.

Liberals have often called for a participatorally-run democracy. This
does not provide any solution. "Self-management" is perfectly
compatible with capitalism - the bosses would love nothing more than
for workers to voluntarily labor without the presence of managers or

The fetishization of decision-making process is rooted in liberal
doctrine. What really matters is not how the decisions are made so
much as what decisions are made, and who is making them. The
inclusion of ruling-class elements in decisions means that the decision
will be in favor of those elements. This is what Marx meant when he
asserted the need for proletarian dictatorship, a term from which we
do not shy.


Racism and its historical accomplice, nationalism, have been carefully
developed to a point where they can be engineered and manipulated to
cause workers around the world and even in the same country to fight
each other over the scraps of power thrown to them by the
bourgeoisie. Such artificial divisions in the proletariat are always to
the benefit of the capitalist system that is ultimately at fault for
creating these tensions.

Racism as an institution has existed for so long at the behest of class
society that it now permeates nearly every social relation we
undertake. Activist circles have historically been anything but immune
to this tendency, in which racism can manifest itself subtly, often in
the form of patronizing attempts to "help", or the subconscious
disregarding of white privilege.

RAAN is a radical multi-racial, multi-national network founded and run
off a continuing discussion driven by its membership. We must ensure
that this discussion covers and confronts all forms of oppression,
especially those embedded in both our own revolutionary organizations
and everyday lives.

We seek two things: firstly, to support and organize with workers who
have been specifically oppressed as a result of their skin color, or
nationality, and agitate towards their autonomous empowerment to
fight back. Secondly, we seek to unite all workers, irrespective of race
and nationality, towards a worldwide revolution that will finally smash
forever the institutions of white supremacy, racism, and nationalism.


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