A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists **

News in all languages
Last 40 posts (Homepage) Last two weeks' posts

The last 100 posts, according to language
Castellano_ Català_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Türkçe_ The.Supplement
{Info on A-Infos}

(en) Canada, NEFAC-Montreal, Talking About Class: An Anarcho-Communist Primer by La Bete Noire

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 25 May 2003 10:00:41 +0200 (CEST)

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

Email: mtl (at) nefac.net
Why is the concept of class so important to anarchists? Why are we
constantly talking about classes and class struggle? Some of our
opponents accuse us of living in the past, they claim the working class
is dying out. After all you don't see too many workers wanderng
around in donkey jackets, cloth caps and heavy boots. So that settles
the question, doesn't it? No, it doesn't, so let us get away from silly
caricatures and get down to basics. TALKING ABOUT CLASS: AN ANARCHO-COMMUNIST PRIMER
by Bete Noire (NEFAC-Montreal)


Why is the concept of class so important to anarchists? Why are we
constantly talking about classes and class struggle? Some of our
opponents accuse us of living in the past, they claim the working class
is dying out. After all you don't see too many workers wanderng
around in donkey jackets, cloth caps and heavy boots. So that settles
the question, doesn't it? No, it doesn't, so let us get away from silly
caricatures and get down to basics.

The modern world, like societies that preceded it, does not consist of
a single group of people who have more in common than they have
dividing them. Sadly, there is no single "humanity". Not yet, anyways.
In every country there is still a division of people into classes which
have conflicting interests.

Classes are defined by their relationship to the means of production;
their relationship to the factories, machinery, natural resources, etc.,
with which the wealth of society is created. Although there are groups
such as the self-employed and the small farmers, the main classes are
the workers and the bosses. It is the labour of the working class that
creates the wealth. The bosses, through their ownership and control
of the means of production, have legal ownership of this wealth and
decide how it is to be distributed.


Only a part of this wealth is returned. Some is paid as wages, some as
the "social wage" (hostpitals, schools, public services and so on). The
rest is creamed off as profit. But labour creates all wealth. An apple
on a tree is worth nothing until someone picks it, coal in the ground
has no use until someone mines it. What is known as "surplus value"
or profit is stolen wages.

The working class is the majority in Canada today. All who work for a
wage, salary or commission are in its ranks. It consists of all who have
to sell their ability to work to those in control. It makes no difference if
you work in a factory, office, school, hospital or shop. It makes no
difference if you work with your hands or your brain, whether you
wear overalls or a suit, whether you earn "good" or bad wages.


The unemployed also form part of the working class. Social welfare
programs are made to those who have worked ad those who may
potentially provide some employer with their labour power. It is a
condition of payment that a claimant is "available for and actively
seeking work". Needless to say, partners and children of workers are
also part of the same class, as are the retired.

The interests of the working class (wages, working conditions, jobs,
useful public spending, etc.) are in constant and inevitable conflict
with those of the boss class. The seek to maximise their profits and
gain an advantage over their competitors at the expense of the


Anyone who talks about "social partnership" -- about labour and
capital working together for the benefit of all -- is talking nonsense.
What rights we have and gains we have made have been the result of
long and often bitter struggles. The bosses only give such rights and
concessions as they are forced to. In times of recession, such as now,
they try to make workers pay through job losses, cuts in real wages,
cuts in public spending, productivity deals, etc. for the crisis that is a
periodic and inevitable product of capitalism.

Although capitalism oppresses people on many different levels (race
and sex to name but two), it is the exploitation of our labour that is
fundemental to the system. It is on this front that the fight for a new
society will be won or lost. If we can reclaim that aspect of our lives,
the system can be overturned and replaced with something much


The working class are brought together in large towns and cities. At
work we co-operate with others. Each person has to do their bit so that
the person at the next stage of production can do theirs. In the
services it is the same; in hospitals, schools and offices. This means
that the working class can be a force capable, not only of rebelling
against injustice, but of taking over and recreating society in it's own

As a class we have to think and act collectively. In a strike you need
the support of your workmates and of the workers in the supplier
firms. Individual action won't get you very far. We have to co-operate.
The same applies to the mammoth task of creating a new society. We
cannot divide up an office or factory between all the workers there.
We act as a group or not at all. This collective nature that is part and
parcel of our class provides the basis for the solidarity and mutual aid
we will need to scrap the old order and build a truly free and
egalitarian society.

The working class are those with the most to gain from the abolition of
capitalism, and we're also the ones with the power to change society,
because capitalism depends on our continuing to support it.
Whenever we take action to improve our wages or working conditions,
we realise that we are stronger when we stand together, and we cut
into the profits of our bosses. And the more successes we have in
campaigns like this, the more we realise that we don't have to stop
there, with small gains and reforms, but that we're able to
fundementally change society so that it serves all of our interests.


However, just because someone is a worker it does not always follow
that he or she will think of themself as a worker, or realise the
potential for change that the working class collectively possesses. We
all know of workers who sometimes identify with their boss, or
unemployed people who become demoralised and totally isolated
from any sense of belonging to the working class. And there are
plenty of ignorant academics running around talking rubbish about a
new "sub class" and a "natural conflict" between those with jobs and
those without.

Class consciousness, an awareness of our common interests and the
potential we have for real change, needs to be encouraged and
strengthened. This is one of the tasks of an anarchist organisation.

The struggle between the classes will only come to an end when the
boss class, and the State which protects their priveleged positions,
are overthrown. Nationialisation or State control of the means of the
production would not mean an end to class society. It would simply
mean the replacement of individual capitalists by a bureaucratic
State-capitalism. Like their predecessors they would be in control and
would have their final say about what happens to the wealth we
create. Whether they like it or not this would be the logical outcome of
the statist politics of the 'International Socialists', 'New Socialist
Group', or the 'Labour Left'.


Only the direct control and management of production by the working
class themselves can end the class division. A classless society is not
possible without this.

Everyone affected by a decision should have a say in making that
decision. Production in an anarchist society would be managed by an
elected workers' council in each workplace. Planning on a higher level
would be subject to the agreement of delegates from the councils,
delegates who would be subject to a mandate from their members
and instantly recallable if they don't do the job they were elected to
do. In such a society the wealth would be created and managed for
the benfit of all. There would be no elite of bosses or rulers. This is the
vital precondition for real freedom.


The Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists (NEFAC) is a
bi-lingual (French and English) organisation of revolutionaries from
the northeast region of North America who identify with the
communist tradition within anarchism. We oppose all forms of
oppression and exploitation, and struggle for a classless, stateless,
non-hierarchical society.

To achieve such a society we must bring an end to patriarchy, white
supremacy and class domination; smash State power; expropriate the
wealth of the rich; abolish the wage system and market economy; and
socialize the means of production and distribution for the benefit of
society as a whole. This means nothing short of social revolution,
which can only emerge from autonomous social movements and the
revolutionary self-activity of the working class.

NEFAC is not a large organization, and we have no pretensions about
our importance. However, we are convinced enough of our ideas to
want to spread them as widely as possible, both by propaganda and
involvement in social movements and popular struggles. If you agree
with our politics and support our activity, please get in touch!



La Bete Noire
c/o Le Trouble
C.P. St.-Andre, B.P. 32018
Montreal, Quebec, H2L 4Y5, Canada
email: mtl (at) nefac.net
(French-speaking General Secretariat)

Roundhouse Collective
c/o Black Planet Books
1621 Fleet St.
Baltimore, MD, 21231, USA
email: roundhouse (at) mobtown.org
(English-Speaking General Secretariat)

****** The A-Infos News Service ******
News about and of interest to anarchists
COMMANDS: lists@ainfos.ca
REPLIES: a-infos-d@ainfos.ca
HELP: a-infos-org@ainfos.ca
WWW: http://www.ainfos.ca/
INFO: http://www.ainfos.ca/org

-To receive a-infos in one language only mail lists@ainfos.ca the message:
unsubscribe a-infos
subscribe a-infos-X
where X = en, ca, de, fr, etc. (i.e. the language code)

A-Infos Information Center