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(en) France, CNT-ait: Anarchosyndicalisme! #181 - Reform or Revolution? (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Mon, 29 May 2023 08:57:03 +0300

It has been a long time since a government project has sparked such mobilizations. Three, four million demonstrators. It is enormous. The French are very angry. More than eighty percent of workers are, according to official polling institutes, opposed to the reform of their pensions. Eighty percent means that at the very least, forty to fifty million people are absolutely opposed to raising the retirement age to 64. But then, where are they? Why don't they join the protests? Why don't they make their opposition clearly heard? Why do they accept (because to be silent is to accept) without saying a word what they consider unfair? Why do they resign?
These are questions of this kind that, already in the sixteenth century, the young Étienne de la Boétie asked himself. How is it, he said, that the people who produce the wealth and hold the power agree to be governed and martyred by tyrants? To answer this, he invented the concept of "voluntary servitude". The vast majority of individuals accept his condition as a dominated person and this acceptance is their doing.

A precision is essential: it is certainly voluntary, but above all the consequence of the indoctrination, the conditioning, the brutalization that people undergo. From our earliest childhood, we are taught to obey the injunctions of the authorities, never to contest them.

In the eighteenth century, the "philosophers of the Enlightenment", Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, etc. denounced those responsible for this conditioning: the state, religions, traditions. They explained that they had to be fought and that only the use of Reason would make it possible to overcome them. A rational education, according to them, is what the people need to dissipate the darkness of obscurantism and free them from the chains of slavery.

In the nineteenth century, thinkers like Proudhon, Marx, Bakunin and many others, accompanying the reflections of the nascent labor movement, dissected the functioning of the capitalist system, showed the division of society into antagonistic social classes, the fundamental character unfair and criminal of this system and explained that only collective action by the exploited could overcome it. From the middle of the century, the workers began to organize themselves and these efforts resulted in the creation by workers of various nationalities of the First International with the unanimously accepted slogan: "the emancipation of the workers will be the 'work of the workers themselves'. This slogan perfectly sums up the program of the First International: To emancipate oneself is of course to destroy the existing economic and social system, to abolish the division of society into antagonistic social classes and the exploitation of man by the man; but it is also to educate oneself, to cultivate oneself, to develop a rational spirit among the workers, to make them aware. The initiators of the International believed that a social revolution, the abolition of the state and of capitalist exploitation required that the great mass of workers be enlightened, lucid and committed accordingly.

Shortly after the creation of the First International, Marx developed the absolutely opposite idea that the transformation of society would pass not through the destruction of the state, but through its conquest, which required the capture of state institutions by a vanguard, a political party, and this, by any means (elections, social movement, revolution). Once this objective has been achieved, the State placed at the service of the interests of the workers is then responsible for preparing society for the transition to a later stage of communism. This intermediate stage has been called the dictatorship of the proletariat. This method no longer requires the mass of workers to be enlightened and lucid, but just a small fraction, the vanguard, to whom the revolutionary work is delegated. We therefore move from "the emancipation of the workers will be the work of the workers themselves" to "building popular power, embodied by the Party". In the minds of employees, the solution proposed by Marx appeared infinitely simpler, faster than that requiring the education of the mass of workers; and suddenly almost the entire world labor movement has set out to build the Party of the working class and for more than 150 years, everywhere in the world parties supposed to embody the hopes of the exploited seek to conquer state power to exercise it for their benefit. Many of these parties have come to power, either as a result of revolutions or through elections, but these experiences have always ended in resounding failures, sometimes even in catastrophes. Each time, it is the populations, in particular the workers and the exploited who have paid the price.

In 2023 in France, Macron - former minister of a socialist government, elected in 2022 with the support of the unions - shamelessly goes back on all social advances. Many of those who rightly decry its contempt today were extolling its merits not long ago.

What is terrible is that history repeats itself: what we are experiencing, we have already experienced many times before. Things are however clear, as long as populations choose to give up power to one or a few individuals, without control to decide what is good for them, it will be so. Macron is a traitor, of course, but the system of representative democracy which enabled him to come to power, which meant that an entire people confidently handed over control of their destiny to him, this representative system is even more infamous .

In view of all the dangers that threaten us, it is urgent to put an end to this system and replace it with a real democracy, direct democracy. But for that, it is necessary beforehand that a significant proportion of the population is aware, thinks that a social revolution is desirable, that it is possible and therefore undertakes to prepare for it. This tremendous work of raising awareness is the purpose of anarchosyndicalism.

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