Workers and popular organizations connected to the anarchist movement rally on May Day 2009 in a public square in Argentina.
What would an anarchist politics look like that spoke to the needs of today’s realities and to today’s movements? How can revolutionaries apply the values of anarchism to an understanding of building mass movements from below, an understanding of power, a vision of a future society with the understanding of the organization needed to reach it, coupled with a strong analysis of race, patriarchy, gender and issues of queer liberation?
Miami Autonomy & Solidarity (MAS, pronounced like the word “más” in Spanish) is a small organization of revolutionaries based out of the fourth largest metropolitan areas in the US. While Miami is a hub of international trade and finance, it’s also the third poorest city in the US and with a majority immigrant and people of color population (nearly 60% were born outside the US). Much like the US/Mexico border, Miami is a city where the third and first world grate against each other. Interestingly, similar to the rest of the US South, the city lacks much of an established left as would other large metropolitan areas such as New York, Boston, Chicago and the Bay Area.
The organization has been in a process of formation, study and debate for over a year prior to announcing themselves publicly in mid-May 2009. While there are certainly a number of well spoken and excellent individual thinkers in the anarchist milieu, MAS’s Points of Unity below represents one of the best collectively written organizational statements of anarchist politics in North America to this date in my opinion. A recommended read.
Miami Autonomy & Solidarity Points of Unity
Miami Autonomy & Solidarity is an organization of people whom have come together for the purpose of developing a revolutionary organization that works within social movements, as well as on the revolutionary level with the ultimate goal of contributing to an autonomous popular class movement of the oppressed that will overthrow capitalism and the state, as well as ending all forms of oppression.
Role of the Specific Revolutionary Organization
Our specific revolutionary organization is a group founded on and working towards theoretical and strategic unity, as well as tactical coordination amongst its members. These organizational principles serve to strengthen our efficiency and effectiveness in developing our ideas and strategies within the broader working class movement. It must be stated that the need for such a group arises out of the practical struggles of the working class to transform itself into a revolutionary class capable of overthrowing capitalism and the state; as well as building society along egalitarian, self-managed, and directly democratic lines.
Through our specific revolutionary organization we seek to contribute to the theoretical development of revolutionary social struggles. We engage in the creation of media that communicates the views and political line of the organization, and we directly participate in struggles based on a common strategic program and coordinated activity. The political organization helps keep a historical memory of struggle and ongoing organizational strategic assessments of struggle in mass movements . We strive to retain experiences of success and failures in order to strengthen the social struggle.
However, unlike some political parties that try to use social movements as a tool to develop their own power, our organization’s relation to the social movement’s is reversed: our organization is a tool of our members and sympathizers within the social movement used to contribute towards the power of the social movements through the development of the autonomous consciousness, capacity, and solidarity of these movements. We never seek to dominate, impose upon, manipulate, command or control the movements we’re a part of. Rather we seek to participate as equals within the struggle, offering our ideas and methods as short and long term proposals for the movements towards liberation.
Racism is more than just a set of attitudes and behaviors, but a systemic phenomenon that is built into and executed by numerous institutions throughout society. Historically, white supremacy in the US has used the notion of whiteness to oppress people of color, while simultaneously rewarding groups and individuals who embrace and promote white supremacist rule.
From a working class perspective, racism serves to keep the oppressed classes divided and disorganized to the detriment of the all within the oppressed classes. Thus, we must fight racism and prejudice of all kinds, for the unity and liberation of the oppressed classes depends on it.
We believe that race and class in the United States are intrinsically connected, though they may affect certain groups of people differently. As such, we respect and support the need of certain groups of people to struggle autonomously. As class struggle militants we seek to actively build rapport with these movements, so as to help connect such struggles, and give them expression as part of a larger working class movement. We feel that more experimentation is needed to develop tools and practices which will aid in the development of a genuine multi-racial, working class movement in the US. We believe that building such a movement is the task of all serious anti-racist, anti-statist, anti-capitalist revolutionaries.
Such mechanisms allow for the participation of women in the system, but in such a way that men as a group still end up with a greater degree of power in relation to women as a group.
We see women’s liberation as a movement in itself, but also see the need to have it linked with other struggles against domination. The end of patriarchy is liberatory for both men and women. It means the end of imposed gender roles, practices, behaviors, social relationships etc. and the end of domination of women by men, the state, and capitalism. We aim to practice this in our personal relationships and groups as well as work collectively against these oppressive power relations.
Queer liberation is the struggle against queer oppression that manifests itself through homophobia, heterosexism, trans-phobia, and other forms of domination. It intersects with other forms of oppression, as well as manifesting its own forms of systemic, cultural and personal oppression. We support the struggles of working class queers in their fight for free sexuality between consenting adults; free gender expression; equal and appropriate access to health care and other social institutions and other struggles for respect. We also support working class queers’ opposition to “queer assimilation” – the struggle for an autonomous movement that is not co-opted by the state, capitalism and privileged classes that try to dominate the queer movement.
Ending Capitalism and Constructing a Classless Society
Capitalism is an economic system of organized class oppression. Capitalism is primarily a social relationship between classes that must work, and the classes that direct and employ. It is a relationship that is reproduced at every level of society by workers, managers, and bosses, within the workplace and everywhere else.
A small class of capitalists own the companies, production equipment, apartment buildings, and other economic assets. The dictatorship of the capitalists derives from their direct control over all of the property of society, and locks out the oppressed classes. Within the working class we are forced to sell our time, our bodies, and minds in order to survive. Our lives and time are used up reluctantly in the ebb and flow of capital’s cycles. Capitalism can only be sustained by increasing profit through increasing production and draining more wealth from the oppressed classes and the Earth. This relentless drive for profits has caused capital to overlook human and environmental devastation in the pursuit of short term gains.
The capitalists’ efforts to increase control over work and extract greater wealth, led to the creation of a distinct section of the economy— the managers and elite professionals who staff the hierarchies of the corporations and the state. Management is a tool of repression in the workplace, speeding up our work, policing the workplace, and keeping the interests of the owners as the driving force on the job. The subordination of the working class to the capitalist and bureaucratic classes is a system of oppression because it denies us control over our lives and subordinates life to the meaningless drive for profit.
In the process of building a class that can only survive through selling its time and labor, capitalism locked some people out of the workforce. Some are held in near permanent unemployment, others like housewives help contribute to society’s wealth but aren’t paid for it.
Not everyone who is in a class knows they’re in a class. In fact the opposite is true. There is a difference between the class you are in objectively, and how you perceive yourself and the way you behave. In practice, we see a world of infinite divisions, continuously blurred and reorganized by capitalists and the state, and oppressed classes divided for innumerable reasons.
We organize to build class unity through struggle, and build a united working class movement for the abolition of classes altogether. We recognize that only through the unity of the oppressed against capital and the state will the abolition of oppression for all be possible, it is only through building common struggle and class organization that we will succeed.
The ability of the elite classes to exploit our labor and dominate us has been limited throughout the history of capitalism by revolts and mass struggles of ordinary people. The oppressed classes can liberate themselves through the development of self-managed mass organizations, which are developed through class struggle. Ultimately, we can only be rid of class dictatorships when we destroy the basis for economic classes all together, and live in a society where we control our own neighborhoods and jobs through collective democracy. We advocate a strategy for social change “from below” based on mass participation, direct democracy, collective direct action, and self-managed mass organizations, aimed towards the end of class rule and oppression.
Abolition of the State
The state is an institution of minority class rule held through a monopoly of violence and centralized decision-making, which is reproduced as a social relationship throughout society. The modern state as we know it co-developed with capitalism in Western Europe and has spread to nearly everywhere across the globe, and in almost all instances sided with economic power against the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population. Today, the position of the state, both in terms of power and its participation in the market, creates divisions amongst the ruling class in competing for control. The ruling class and the state are therefore not identical.
The level of centralization both of power and wealth in the hands of the state makes any hope of change through working within the state only an illusion. History has been clear in showing that the state transforms rebels into masters or destroys those who try to defend the oppressed classes. Revolutionary change won’t come by changing who’s in power, only the eradication of hierarchy will achieve this.
WWDD: What Would Durutti Do?
We seek a social revolution that will overthrow the state and capitalism. Yet a society-wide transformation can’t happen overnight, since we have seen that the state is inside us too. Without an internal transformation, we will continue to reproduce the dominating and exploitative relations of the state and capital daily. It is only through the process of collective struggle that we can both draw out the potential for change and see the kernel of its realization.
To organize a revolutionary society, we must have popular institutions that replace the necessary functions which the state and capital distorted and monopolized. After defending ourselves in revolution and achieving greater stability, the re-organization of society for human needs rather than the profit-driven production of capitalism will increasingly become our task.
Imperialism is a system where the state and elite classes of some countries use their superior economic and military power to dominate and exploit the people and resources of other countries. The imperialist powers drain wealth from less powerful countries through debt, corporate investment, unequal power in trade, and military intervention.
As countries compete for greater dominance and market control, a global power struggle and military race rises and falls again and again, while the oppressed classes are the bodies, minds, and hearts that are used up and discarded. We support popular progressive struggles against both military and economic expressions of imperialism.
Today, modern warfare, combined with modern science, is used to pursue ever increasing means of torment for humanity. War is increasingly waged, not merely on bodies, but on the minds, hearts, and land of dominated countries. Torture, rape, genocide, poisoning and destroying of land are the mark of our time. Only through eradicating the root cause which drives countries to imperialist aggression, will we see an end to limitless war.
Our fight is both internal and external. Internally we fight the foundations of the imperialist economy and state which provides the basis for imperialism. Externally we seek to build concrete unity, through action and solidarity with movements that struggle to end imperialism and capitalism. In countries resisting invasion or domination by the major capitalist powers, we support movements of the oppressed classes in these countries, not their local states or local elites. We don’t support the national bourgeoisie and bureaucracies in their bid for power in these struggles. The history of the completed revolutions throughout Latin America, Africa and throughout the globe demonstrate the peril and vital mistake in supporting these forces.
In situations where a “national liberation movement” aims to oust a pro-imperialist leadership in a country or fight an occupation, we support mass movements of workers, peasants, and others of the oppressed classes in their struggle against imperialism, but not the state-building project of a “national liberation” political party. Self-determination requires the autonomy of the popular organizations from the ruling classes and party bureaucracies.
Imperialism can only be brought to an end by a social and economic transformation throughout the planet, which eliminates the system of competing states and exploitative class systems. The human species needs to evolve a new form of world association that respects the autonomy and differences of all communities or ethnic groups while allowing for democratic decision-making, rooted in grassroots institutions such as delegate congresses, to resolve global problems.
The Necessity of Social Revolution
Capitalism, the State and other systems of oppression cannot be voted or convinced out of existence. The oppressed classes must lead a revolutionary struggle against the systems of domination of the elite classes and their defenders. This struggle will involve the destruction of the state; the expropriation of all land, capital, social institutions and wealth from capital;the ending of class-based economic systems; and the elimination of all forms of oppression.
The old oppressive political, economic and social orders must be replaced by directly-democratic , egalitarian, and self-managed decision-making institutions. These popular institutions must be federally linked from the local level to the global level, in order to organize for common needs and around common issues. We seek an economic system that will be controlled socially through these directly-democratic, self-managed, egalitarian and cooperative structures that bases economic contribution according to individuals’ abilities and economic distribution according to individuals’ needs.
However, the elite classes will not give up their privileges without a fight and will use violence, lies, withholding of resources and whatever other means of maintaining the state, capitalism and other forms of privilege and oppression as they can. There will also likely be various parties and organizations that may try to co-opt the broad struggle of the oppressed classes by trying to centralize power in their hands supposedly “on behalf of” the revolutionary struggle. The popular revolutionary struggle of the oppressed classes must defend its autonomy against both these elite classes and against any political groups trying to take the revolution under their control.
The revolutionary struggle must be organized to defend itself. Popular militias should be formed accountable to and ultimately controlled directly democratically by the popular revolutionary movment communes. We’re against isolated acts of violence or terrorism in the name of popular struggle. While defense of our struggle will likely necessitate violence; all violence must be liberatory violence that seeks to end systems and manifestations of oppression, not violence that seeks to reintroduce or recreate systems of oppression with different oppressors.
The role of members of our revolutionary organization in this struggle is one of equals making arguments and seeking influence through persuasion within the popular revolutionary struggle; as active militants on behalf of the directly democratic revolutionary struggles; and trying to defend against those who would seek to dominate within these popular revolutionary struggles through coercion or by seeking to institute systems of control, domination or exploitation.
To achieve a sustainable and healthy relationship between humanity and the natural world, we must create a society which is based on the satisfaction of social needs such as food, shelter, water, and community. Modern environmental destruction is largely a result of capitalism’s need to commodify the natural world and continually expand production for the wealth of a small minority. While production expands and contracts, the vast majority of the world and our environments suffer the decimation of the senseless drive to profit. We recognize that social transformation is the first step towards ecological balance, not individual lifestyle changes or technological innovations.
Filed under: Anarchism, Announcement, Left Organizations, the left, The Movement | Tagged: abolish the state, Anarchism, anarchist organization, class struggle, Imperialism, Miami Autonomy & Solidarity, patriarchy, queer liberation, revolutionary organization, social revolution |