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(en) Beyond Resistance a Revolutionary Manifesto for the Future Fourth Edition, Spring 2003 III. (3/4)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(UK AF - www.af-north.org/Beyond_Resistancev4.txt)
Date Sat, 17 May 2003 09:54:53 +0200 (CEST)

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

> The Revolutionary Programme
We advance the need for a revolutionary alternative to capitalism. It
is in opposition to the currents of Blairite social democracy, leftist
labourism and the reformism of the greens, who all advance
reformism, variants of planning by the national or local state
combined with healthy doses of free enterprise prettied up with
'co-operation' and 'decentralisation'). This alternative must be a clean
break with the old system. It is against Capitalism, Hierarchy and
Authority and is for self-organisation. Reformist proposals offer no
solution to the nightmare of

Pre-revolutionary Culture
Faced with the polarisation between the development of a world
market economy and the nationalist and fundamentalist reactions to
it, the Revolution requires a new internationalism. This new
internationalism is based neither on false ethnic nor nationalistic
ideas, which are for world peoples a similar notion as individualism is
to the individual, nor on vague abstract ideas of universal values, but
on a dynamic interaction between a world outlook and local
sensibility. It encourages and celebrates cultural diversity. It fights
the segregation of cultures and looks towards dynamic exchange
between them. It encourages the development of global
communication. It must consist of a wide range of forms which
include language, culture and tradition.

We fight against the false logic of Capitalist thought based on such
concepts as 'Progress', 'Growth', and 'Development'. The economic
system is not something that should hurtle out of control but must,
like technology, be subordinated to human need. Our opposition to
capitalist Growth and Development is linked to our questioning of the
work ethic and the nature of work.

The revolutionary alternative cannot exist without the development of
a new Culture of Resistance. By this Culture of Resistance we mean
the development of both social spaces and general attitudes of
anti-capitalist combativity. Expressions of this are already present
within the working class, for example the increasing dislike of the
police and the popular support many recent struggles have enjoyed.
At present these and other acts of resistance are largely carried by
working class people who are neither politicised or consciously
revolutionary. At the same time there exists a small number of class
struggle anarchists consciously opposed to capitalism and the state,
and committed to its overthrow. The links between these two groups
are weak but if we are to create a working class movement capable of
smashing the power of the state these links have to be strengthened.

We actively encourage and participate in the development of social
centres where a culture of resistance can grow and flourish. This
culture is not a self-made 'ghetto' culture but a culture actively
opposing the system. It will generalise struggles throughout the
working class seeking to tie the development of resistance to the
growth of a revolutionary movement, leading to a new civilisation.
The generalisation of struggle will reach into all areas of life and
result in an intensification of resistance to state oppression and a
conscious effort to reclaim working class culture and artistic
expression from power elites. The division between manual and
intellectual, avant-garde and mass, individual/individuality and
community would begin to disappear. The Culture of
Resistance will undermine the passive consumer/mass culture of
today and all elitist art, releasing human potential and creativity.

The Revolutionary Alternative fights for a unity of all struggles which
oppose oppression, privilege, exploitation, religion and the State. It
opposes artificial divisions whether based on race, age, gender,
sexuality, disability, nationality. Neither will it accept divisions based
on waged or unwaged status or union affiliation.

The Role of the Revolutionary Organisation
We do not think that the liberation of the working class, and through it
the liberation of humanity as a whole, will come about on a purely
spontaneous level. The road to Revolution that has its starting point
in the internal contradictions of Capitalism has not yet been built. It
will be created in struggle, in moving forward, and that means the
development and application of strategies, even if every facet of each
strategy is not proven effective.

This struggle cannot be delegated to a party. The Revolution does
not mean, and it never has meant, the centralisation of struggles and
the concentration of all the revolutionary forces in a single vanguard
party. It means the development of a mass movement, with various
co-ordinations of the subversive forces, in a globalising process that
means passing from the defensive to the offensive. That does not
remove the need for a specific Anarchist Communist organisation.
The role it has to play is not one of making the Revolution on behalf of
the masses, of being the single and centralised instrument of the

The role of the revolutionary organisation can be summed up in a
number of
1. Above all it is an assembly of activists who seek to work within
struggles and movements.
2. It seeks to act as a memory for the working class, searching out
and recalling the history of past struggles, and attempting to draw the
lessons to be learned from their successes and failures.
3. One of its functions should be to act as a propaganda grouping,
ceaselessly and untiringly putting over a revolutionary message.
4. It acts as a liaison for its militants, conveying information both here
and abroad.
5. It acts as a place for debate for militants, where ideas and
experiences can be synthesised. It will decide, for example, what
propositions to formulate and what way to develop anti-capitalist
positions in the area of activity of each militant? By offering this place
for debate, it counters localism, and fixation on single issues.
6. It puts into practice its own strategies. It struggles for the
independence of struggles, for their self-organisation, against their
co-option by reformism and electoralism. It struggles for the
recomposition of a revolutionary movement, for an anti-capitalist
solution to the crisis within an international perspective. It puts
forward initiatives for practical unity and debate wherever possible.
7. Defending the independence and self-organisation of mass
movements does not mean that the revolutionary organisation does
not seek to spread its ideas in these movements. In this sense we
recognise and fight for a 'the leadership of ideas' within the working
class through example and suggestion. In a non-revolutionary period
the potentially revolutionary masses by and large hold conservative
ideas and values. In this period there needs to be an organisation that
holds on to revolutionary ideas. This leadership of ideas means a
clearer understanding of hierarchical society, the concept of
self-organised society and of the problem of Leninism. In the struggle
against Leninism and all forms of elitism comes the realisation that
the struggle of ideas must be waged at grass roots level. This
realisation is reflected in revolutionary anarchist communist theory
and practice e.g. the mandating and rotation of delegates for mass
decision making and for mass action.
8. The revolutionary organisation affirms that in fighting for a new
society it will not seek to carry out a seizure of power independent of
the united organs of the working class (workplace and neighbourhood
9. It affirms that it will never seek a mandate to form a government,
but will fight for the constant involvement in the act of social
self-organisation of these revolutionary bodies of the working class.
10. By its practice, by its manner of acting, by the intransigence of its
positions and its refusal of compromise, the revolutionary
organisation must be an immediate reference point for the radicalised
sectors who are facing the most brutal consequences of the crisis.
This revolutionary organisation, yet to be developed, must synthesise
the need for immediate reply to capitalist attacks, possible and
practical solutions, and aspirations for a radical change in society.

Thus, the AF does not see itself as the perfect revolutionary
organisation, but is involved in the process out of which one will
emerge. It does believe that its theory and structure, if not its size and
influence in the working class, will make a major contribution to this

The activity of the AF in struggles before the Revolution
The AF operates as part of a wider revolutionary movement, existing
here and around the World, which itself acts in the context of
enormous, but largely unorganised, discontent amongst working
class people at their lives under Capitalism. The revolutionary
movement in itself is fragmented organisationally, partly because it is
uninspired and weak theoretically and politically. The class as a
whole, whilst angry, appears apathetic because it is disillusioned with
traditional and ineffectual forms of struggle and because groups like
the AF have not yet been able to prove the case for Revolution and
encourage revolutionary tendencies within the working class. The AF
has positions which we try to implement in our approach to the
revolutionary movement and also in our involvement in resistance at
work and in our communities which we believe will help create a
culture of resistance and revolutionary consciousness.

Our approach is derived both from our theory and from our
experience, and those of other people, in struggle. It enable us not
only to help undermine Capitalism in the here and now, but also shifts
the focus of everyday struggles from obvious, though important, short
term goals to the ultimate goal of Revolution. For example, we are
involved as working class people in struggling for better community
facilities, for resistance to police presence on our streets, and for
working class self-activity in dealing both with the authorities and
with anti-social elements in our communities. But at the same time we
point out that the enemy is the capitalist state, and so we oppose
putting faith in soft-cop community leaders or self-appointed
community controllers, such as gangsters or paramilitaries. And we
argue against people who try to scapegoat vulnerable groups within
our communities - such as youth, black people, homeless people or
squatters - for the problems which Capitalism creates.

To make revolution more likely, our working class communities must
be united. People must be made conscious of the fact that it is
capitalism that divides us and makes us compete, it is not a natural
human condition. Humanity can only fulfil its potential after a
revolution that achieves an anarchist communist world. But the
creation of self-active units and communities will make the Revolution
more likely, as we get a glimpse of what life could be like outside of
state control and the requirements of profit. Because of this we have
been involved in such areas as squatting, opposition to the Criminal
Justice Act, unemployment issues such as the Job Seekers
Allowance, anti-Poll Tax work, opposition to council and government
collaboration with big business - wrecking our environment by
building roads through where we live and giving land to supermarket
chains to build yet more superstores - housing projects, resistance to
the closure and under funding of community facilities as well as in
creative and cultural projects. Let us make it clear - we do not involve
ourselves in these campaigns in order to sign up recruits as do left
groups like the Socialist Workers Party or the Socialist Party
(ex-Militant), but because we want these campaigns to succeed and
inspire participants to go on taking control of their lives, community
and environment.

We have a similar approach to workplace struggles. It is vital that
workers are supported whenever they oppose the boss class, be it
over issues of safety, pay, hours, attacks on ethnic minorities or
women at work, job security or whatever. Victory improves our slave
conditions in these areas but can also inspire workers to create more
meaningful change. Real resistance, be it short term - such as for
re-instatement or better wages - or aimed at longer term social
change - is only possible if the false claim of the trade unions to
represent workers' aspirations is undermined. Union membership has
fallen since legislation made trade union organised activity less
effective. But it has fallen also because workers see unions as less
relevant to their workplace experience. Indeed, in recent years, when
unions have supported their own members taking action, they have
most typically clamped down on activity that could damage union
coffers and their good relationships with the bosses.

There are reasons for joining trade unions, however. Unions are one
place where you can meet other people fighting, or wanting to fight
the bosses. Meeting regularly with them can build a sense of
solidarity and give you somewhere to discuss politics. In some
workplaces with a tradition of union membership, not only would you
be seen as anti-working class if you didn't join but you would be
unlikely to get any support if you were victimised by the bosses. Not
least, unionised workplaces often have better wages, job security etc.
But this is now becoming all that unions can achieve. The law means
that they can support only the most moderate and ineffectual action,
and they are typically unwilling to risk even this. In this climate, the
struggles they do support are pro-capitalist and entirely legal. They
are not on the side of workers in struggle unless they are total in
control of the means of that struggle. Huge numbers of disputes have
begun unofficially, and even if the union is shamed into coughing up
strike pay and so on, it tries at the same time to tone down and
eventually negotiate the struggle to a standstill. When we get
involved with disputes it is vital to show workers that it is they who
are in struggle, not their union, and that if they win it is in spite of
their union.

Increasingly, workers find themselves in non-unionised workplaces. A
typical problem faced by Revolutionaries is whether to start a
workplace branch. If your colleagues see you as a fighter, they might
try to make you shop-steward. Revolutionaries know that there is little
point expending energy in this way. Indeed, recent disputes, where
workers were sacked specifically for joining a union, have received
little or no union support in any case. Rather than become part of the
bureaucracy of a near-redundant trade union mechanism ourselves,
because of a lack of other options, we must be able to offer credible

Of the alternatives which the workers' movement has offered, some
are less useful than others. Rank-and-Fileism, for example, involves a
'bottom up' approach where radical workplace representatives rather
than paid union convenors take the initiative. Whilst this poses a
threat to slow moving and back-sliding union bureaucracy, its
emphasis is still reformist and its vision limited by existing trade
union structures and lack of vision. Such initiatives have sometimes
proved to be vehicles for leftists climbing their organisation's career
ladder, by proving themselves to be more effective reformists that the
union's officials. Individual rank-and-filists may give a radical lead to
some struggles and gain a high profile, but this does not seem to
result in the creation of mass movements, let alone revolutionary
consciousness. This is the case not least because rank-and-filists put
themselves in a position to negotiate between the workers and the
bosses. This is the case with all initiatives which cling to trade
unionism. Shop steward combines have faced similar problems. Some
shop stewards may genuinely represent workers wishes, but are
unable to establish networks that by-pass the bureaucracy in order to
effectively implement them.
For similar reasons we are sceptical about the potential of
syndicalism and anarcho-syndicalism as revolutionary methods.
Syndicalists aim to set up alternative unions as a means to bring
about revolution and such tactics have proved popular with
anarchists. However, despite such unions adopting anarchist
principles and often being militant in both industrial and social
struggles, unions are incapable of bringing about revolutionary
change. Permanent economic organisations, whatever label or
ideology they adhere to, invariably become integrated into capitalism.
In practice, syndicalist unions have become as bureaucratic as other
unions because of their permanent position of mediation between
bosses and workers. The working class should aim not only to take
control of the workplace but to be liberated from it.

Activity which is unofficial and initiated and continued outside of
union control has been successful historically. Changing work
practices make the workplace less of a potential power base for the
working class and trade unionism cannot challenge the power of the
bosses enough to turn this around. Nonetheless, workers continue to
take action and do sometimes win in spite of trade union sabotage.
These struggles are very different from those of traditional trade
unionism. Struggles which do succeed do so because of a
combination of extreme anger, optimism and solidarity amongst those
on strike, not because the union is supporting them. They also win
because workers refuse to be bought off by the bosses not only
because of idealism but because, quite literally, workers have nothing
left to lose, and so the negotiating role of the union is undermined.
Workers on strike survive not because of strike pay, which is often
non-existent, but because they extend their struggles into
communities of support, solidarity groups, and donations from other
working class people for example, not because of the effectiveness of
broader trade union co-operation (which is now virtually illegal). From
this new realism either despondency or revolutionary consciousness
may grow.

Therefore we advocate the need for an optimistic, coherent and
realistic industrial strategy, one which anticipates and by-passes the
impotence of the unions, as opposed to just responding to their lack
of support with outraged demands for recognition. A new way of
waging war on the bosses is now more relevant than ever. Just as
Capitalism itself is changing its tactics, workers are realising for
themselves that the old forms of economic struggle, such as were
successful in Britain in the 1970's, are less useful. Anarchists have
long argued that the union bosses sabotage struggle, and this
argument has now been won as a result of historic struggles such as
the Liverpool dockworkers strike. Over the past few years, and as we
write, workers have realised this and are beginning to establishing
structures of attack, defence and support which anticipate the role of
the unions and by-pass it.

Recent years have seen a huge increase in wildcat strikes, industrial
sabotage and attacks on the Capitalist infra-structure. Effective
action has gone beyond the confines of individual workplaces and
industries. For example: secretive secondary action undertaken by
other workers and activists; support groups revolving around working
class communities as well as involving the families of workers in
dispute and making links with other non-industrial struggles; the
formation of international links directly with other workers
irrespective of the global collusion between bosses and unions.
These tactics are now employed by workers as part of a conscious
attempt to be self-active in their own defence and make effective use
of their time - not handing their power over to the useless unions.

Obviously, what is emerging in an alternative workers movement
which is both economic and social. Revolutionaries need to give
thought to the question of how this should be structured. The AF has
discussed whether the establishment of a permanent support network
is a good idea, as the matter has been raised by workers. We should
be wary of establishing any permanent structures, useful though they
may seem in the short term. They may become as paralysed by
bureaucracy as the unions, have to have full-time or paid workers, be
prey to leftist take-over, or worst of all, have limited resources and
have to decide which struggles to allocate them to and which to
neglect. Not least, if they are permanent, then the State can attack

What is needed is the growth of a new culture of economic resistance
without a permanent structure but able to produce high levels of
militant activity as and when it is needed. This is not to say that there
should be no on-going radical work. Far from it. We believe that,
even when not officially in dispute, workers should establish
semi-secretive (but never elitist) non-permanent 'workplace
resistance' groups. These have been established by revolutionaries in
some industries have in the past, with some success. Their secrecy
and lack of permanent structure means that their members cannot be
identified, victimised or bought off by management, and they can
concentrate on action and theory, not on self-perpetuation. Such
groups must not seek to be alternative unions. They must be
anti-capitalist, anti-company, anti-union and anti-party political and
have no respect for legality. They should advocate class war and
practise direct action to achieve their objectives. Such groups would
have a propaganda function (pushing resistance and rebellion,
slagging management, attacking trade and alternative unionism,
advocating go-slows, non-cooperation, sabotage and unofficial action,
mass sick-days etc.) and an active function (co-ordinating
such activity in practice).

These groups will probably be initiated by revolutionaries, such as AF
members, but they will be made up of any one wishing to take
effective action against the
bosses. Class fighters of all kinds will be involved - anyone who can
be trusted in fact. In times of greatest anger in the workplace they
might include everyone working there and their strength will be in
mass participation. At other times, smaller groups will adopt radical
tactics (vandalism, sabotage etc. to hurt the bosses' pocket and
intimidation of scabs and managers, for example). The effectiveness
of their action will encourage more people to get involved. Their
actions must be determined by active mass participation in decision
making and not become a battle ground for politicised cliques. Their
networks of support will extend into the community, into other
workplaces, and into the revolutionary movement.

If this all seems a long way off, think back to the effectiveness of
unofficial sabotage activity undertaken by miners, printers and
dockers in past disputes, which inspired similar action in many other
less famous disputes. Think also of how scared the bosses have been
of wild-cat actions undertaken by postal, hospital and transport
workers. These and other workers, such as those in fast food
businesses and the textile industry, have undertaken effective action
outside of the limited vision of the trade unions, who have frequently
them or sought to neutralise their autonomy and effectiveness. Think
how vital community support groups have been to struggles. The
unions have opposed such
autonomous action, and as a result have shown themselves at best
unnecessary, and at worst a vicious enemy. Ask yourselves whether
radical activity undertaken
by trade union members was actually reliant on the union. Militants
do not need the union to help them express their class anger in a
useful way. Such activity was often ignored, denounced and
undermined by the unions but happened anyway. In many cases it
would probably have happened sooner if workers had not waited in
the first place for the union to take the lead.
** /4

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