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ireland / britain / anarchist movement / news report Friday December 14, 2018 08:34 byJosé Antonio Gutiérrez D.

On December 5th we were pained to hear about the untimely death of Alan MacSimóin, veteran anarchist, trade unionist and tireless organiser in Ireland. Today we said farewell to him at Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin, where many other revolutionaries before him have been put to rest. Many friends and comrades from all parties and movements of the left joined his family to bid farewell to this exceptional man. SIPTU, his trade union, had arranged a guard of honour for him. The previous night, the wake at the Teachers’ Club was equally well attended by comrades of all persuasions: from the Communist Party, the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party, Sinn Féin, Workers Solidarity Movement, Workers’ Party, even Labour. He, as a true non-sectarian, had friends in every single left-wing party, a friendship nurtured in decades of activism.

Alan MacSimóin (1957-2018): a pioneer of anarchism in Ireland

On December 5th we were pained to hear about the untimely death of Alan MacSimóin, veteran anarchist, trade unionist and tireless organiser in Ireland. Today we said farewell to him at Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin, where many other revolutionaries before him have been put to rest. Many friends and comrades from all parties and movements of the left joined his family to bid farewell to this exceptional man. SIPTU, his trade union, had arranged a guard of honour for him. The previous night, the wake at the Teachers’ Club was equally well attended by comrades of all persuasions: from the Communist Party, the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party, Sinn Féin, Workers Solidarity Movement, Workers’ Party, even Labour. He, as a true non-sectarian, had friends in every single left-wing party, a friendship nurtured in decades of activism.

Alan started his political involvement in republicanism, and by the early 1970s he was in the ‘official’ Sinn Féin, which would eventually become the Workers’ Party. It was around this time that he changed his name from ‘Fitzsimons’ to the Irish version ‘MacSimóin’. As a group of young republicans were becoming interested in libertarian communist politics, he left the party in 1975. They would have left earlier, but decided to wait a year more in order not to be mixed with the 1974 split led by Seamus Costello, which led to the foundation of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) and being thus dragged into the bloody feud in which both parties engaged in the coming years. He developed contacts with the British anarchist organisation Anarchist Workers Association (AWA), one of the organisations in the 1970s which had re-discovered the strand of anarchist ‘platformism’, emphasising a cohesive political organisation for anarchists.

Like most Irish people, Alan struggled with unemployment, for the best part of the 1970s and 1980s. And yet, he still managed to participate actively in the creation of the anarchist movement in Ireland, with the creation of the Dublin Anarchist Group and the Anarchist Workers Alliance in the late 1970s. He was then a founding member of the Workers Solidarity Movement (WSM) in 1984, an organisation which would have a massive importance for the re-emergence of an engaged, platformist-inspired, form of anarchist communism in many countries in the aftermath of the end of the /Cold War, including Chile, Colombia, Turkey, Italy, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, France, among others. He contributed extensively to the anarchist press, particularly through the journals linked to the WSM, Workers Solidarity and Red & Black Revolution, and before that, in the Anarchist Worker. He regularly distributed Workers Solidarity door to door in Stoneybatter, his neighbourhood.

He drifted away from the WSM in recent years, arguing that the organisation was moving away from class politics into a more counter-cultural direction. He remained committed to community and trade union activism, being a member of SIPTU, as he firmly believed that anarchist should be engaged in mainstream unions as opposed to alternative unions. He remained a staunch anarchist to the very end. He was active, literally, in every single campaign in Ireland from the 1970s: anti-racism, choice and pro-women, anti-bin charges, anti-water charges, environmental campaigns; in every strike, he was always there. The last time I participated in a struggle with him was the victorious struggle against water charges in 2015-2016 while I was still living in Stoneybatter, a few blocks away from Alan. In his latest years he was devoted, apart from his tirelessly campaigning, to the Irish Anarchist History project and to the Stoneybatter & Smithfields’ People’s History Project.

He was a dedicated militant who never aspired to be in the spotlight. He led by example, being a persistent and consistent activist who participated in meetings, attended every picket and contributed in any way he could to local campaigns. His commitment to anarchist politics wasn’t merely rhetorical: he was always building from below, from the bottom-up. He was a practical man, but he also was, as his long-time anarchist companion Kevin Doyle reminded us in today’s oration at the ceremony in Glasnevin, a dreamer. A dreamer who believed in the capacity and ability of ordinary people, particularly the working class, to change things for the better, as Doyle clearly stated.

His sense of humour was rather dark, sometimes self-deprecating; I still remember when my first son was born, he sent me a text message just saying ‘Don’t worry; the first 40 years are the most difficult, then it is ok’. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much as then. He was stubborn and often engaged in bitter polemics (I remember being at the receiving end of his arguments a good few times); yet, his sincere commitment to the struggle for a better world was doubted by no one. He gained the sympathy and admiration of almost everyone in the left because of his earnest commitment and his sincere devotion to the working class. He is one of the sharpest and most intelligent comrades I’ve come across. Kind, generous and witty, when I arrived to Dublin as a young migrant, he gave me a good few books on Irish working class history for me to get a better grasp of the reality here. He was like that to everyone, always ready to share his knowledge, his experience and his resources with his comrades.

He will be remembered as a most influential figure in the Irish left of the last decades. He was among a handful of people who started talking about anarchism in the 1970s and 1980s; his work to create a space for the libertarian left in a country dominated by political and religious conservatism changed the face of politics forever. If Irish society has moved forward in any measure over the last decades, it is to a great degree thanks to the efforts of people like Alan.

Sit tibi terra levis, dear comrade.

José Antonio Gutiérrez D.
13th December, 2018

international / workplace struggles / opinion / analysis Thursday December 13, 2018 20:16 byLucien van der Walt

Trade union renewal is essential but should not be reduced to democratising structures or new recruitment methods. Renewal should centre on a bottom-up movement based on rank-and-file reform movements, and the direct action of workers as a precondition for radical redistribution of power and wealth to workers, community assemblies and councils in a self-managed, egalitarian order based on participatory planning and distribution by need. It must be rooted in an anarcho-syndicalist understanding that unions can profoundly change society.

Trade union renewal is high on the agenda in many countries, but we need to think carefully about why we want it. Union renewal is a profoundly political and ideological issue.We need to have a clear understanding of how we got into the current mess where many unions are bureaucratic, inefficient and struggle to respond to urgent issues. We need to think carefully about what we want to achieve, not just in terms of how we organise – but what we aim at in the long run.

We need to have some theory about what unions can be, and should be . If we have to ask the question of why we should revitalise or expand unions, we have to decide what we want from unions in the first place. We also need to tackle the issues of the relationship between unions and political parties – and whether workers and unions benefit from workers’ parties that aim at state power.

What 'union' means

Speaking of union ‘renewal’ often assumes we had a working model in the past, and that there is one specific way unions can and should work.

But what we can and should achieve is not obvious.It’s not a simple technical question about which structures work. It’s not a simple question of democratising unions.What is the aim of having a well-organised or democratic union in the first place? There are many choices to be made, even if we have democratic unions. Should unions be business unions, basically dealing with wages and conditions? Or run by experts as service organisations, similar to insurance firms? Or be aiming at something more?

The reality is that unions are always intrinsically political. Their very existence raises questions around power, around class, and around identity and how we build it. Unions are never neutral. Even if when a union calls itself non­-political, that is itself a politicai position, based on a theory.

Unions emerge as a response to a system that is intrinsically unable to satisfy the needs of the great majority of the working class.They provide a key place for solidarity among ordinary people in a very alienating society. Unions are not disappearing, and neither is the working class. Other than faith­-based organisations, trade unions are the largest and most resilient popular organisations.

People speak of a crisis of unionism, but we need to be careful about how we measure that. There is no proper database of unionism worldwide, but every indication is that unions, overall, remain quite stable in terms of numbers, and viewed globally, are even expanding. This reflects the fact that proletarianisation is accelerating: despite certain fashionable theories, class is not gone; class divides are deepening, the working dass – those dependent on wages but lacking control -is now the biggest class on earth.

Unions persist precisely because capitalism and the state are simply unable to incorporate or co-opt the working class. Their very existence reflects the fact that society is riven with deep, stark contradictions. Even the most undemocratic, politically problematic union can only survive to the extent that it represents workers’ interests, no matter how limited a way, and the reality of irreconcilable class antagonisms.

What can a union be?
None of this invalidates arguments that unions have often been undemocratic or sectional in that they reflect and even reinforce divisions between workers -by union, by skill, by industry, by country, between employed and unemployed, and between different federations -or often ended up dealing only with immediate issues around wages rather than the larger challenges in society.

But the question is: is this inevitable? Pessimistic approaches think so, e.g. Robert Michels’ iron law of oligarchy’, in which all mass movements get captured by small full-time self-seeking leaderships. He believed union democracy would die as unions developed.V.I. Lenin believed that unions were sectional, reflecting and reinforcing divisions between workers. Arguing that unions were normally stuck at the level of dealing with immediate issues like wages: they bargained over the terms of exploitation, rather than ended it.They focused on reforms -reformism -and ‘economistic’ concerns. That full­time union bureaucracies emerged to run the bargaining and held back anything -including workers -that threatened it.

But this is all very one-sided, as a more ‘optimistic’ analysis shows. There are many examples of union bureaucracies being challenged from below, especially through rank-and-file movements of ordinary members.The whole notion of union renewal assumes precisely that such challenge and reform is possible.There is no link between union size and levels of democracy: some of the most democratic unions in South Africa in the 1980s were massive unions like those in the so-called ‘workerist’ Federation of SA Trade Unions (FOSATU) movement, and some of the least democratic were small conservative business unions.And unions have repeatedly proved to be key sites of class consciousness and radical politics.

And, moving beyond the ‘optimistic’ analysis, to an anarchist/ syndicalist analysis, it is also possible to show many examples of mass unions that have maintained democratic systems, the best being the anarcho-syndicalist Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) in Spain. This was a radical union that, in the 1930s, came close to two million members, yet rested on a very decentralised structure and had a tiny full-time staff. It systematically overcame sectional divisions among workers, participated in land, community and youth struggles, and opposed colonialism.

Contrary to Lenin’s view that unions, left to themselves, were inevitably stuck at the level of so-called ‘trade union consciousness; the CNT systematically promoted revolutionary ideas and actions, organised a workers’ army, and, in 1936, helped place most of the land and industry in Spain under the direct control of ordinary people, changing daily life and creating a working-class democracy.

Breaking the 'iron law'
So what Michels and Lenin were talking about were tendencies -but they ignored the counter-tendencies for democracy, and the obvious evidence that unions could achieve revolutionary changes without party tutelage or state support.

Michels’ so-called ‘iron law’ rests on the assumption that top­down centralisation and full-time bureaucracy are the most efficient, technically necessary, inevitable measures available, and that oligarchies emerge from this process. The same idea is present in studies that suggest that unions ‘mature’ over time, becoming more moderate, professionalised and conservative.

But undemocratic, top-down unions, run by officials, are actually very ineffective, and often fairly lifeless. They struggle to respond to changes, they place the interests of the officials over the interests of their members, and their leaders are prone to co-optation by governments, businesses and political parties.

Centralism, Rudolph Rocker noted in his book, “Anarcho-syndicalism,” “turns over the affairs of everybody in a lump to a small minority, is always attended by barren official routine and … crushes individual conviction, kills all personal initiative by lifeless discipline and bureaucratic ossification.”

That is precisely what the current push for union renewal shows: the future of unions lies in unions becoming more democratic, more member-driven, more decentralised and more flexible.

The argument for centralism and bureaucracy is an ideological one, a deliberate choice (as the CNT’s counter-example shows) that arises from a false theory, reinforced by the destruction of democratic checks-­and-balances, the immersion of union leaderships in political parties and states, and the ‘Moses syndrome’: the idea that the masses need to be led by a few great leaders, and the ambitions of those who hope to become the Moses.

Beyond the symptoms
An economistic and reformist unionism is always better than no unionism at all. Of course bargaining around wages and rights is valuable, and there is not much else, besides unions, that has succeeded in these roles.

But it deals with the symptoms of, and it simply responds to, what the capitalist system and the state do. And since the problems facing the global working class – unemployment, poverty, low wages, insecurity, racism, war, gender oppression and so on – are deeply linked to capitalism and the state, real change means tackling the system itself. If you have headaches all the time, it’s not a good idea to live on headache pills; you need to find out what is wrong and get a cure.

Capitalist corporations and the state apparatus are extractive systems that centralise power and wealth in the hands of small elites, are profoundly undemocratic, produce and distribute for profit and power, are prone to instability, and marked by war, imperialism and hatred. Removing poverty and inequality, and ending class exploitation, requires their negation by placing productive resources and real control in the hands of ordinary people -a bottom-up society based on participatory planning, common onwership, global community and distribution by need.

The party is over
So, if unions emerge as part of the class struggle, reflect class divisions, and can certainly (as the CNT showed) make radical changes in society, can they help develop the cure that society needs? And if so, how? And what would that cure entail?

The dismissal of unions by many self-described radicals today is not shared by the ruling classes: the bosses and politicians.They are well aware that unions can make dramatic, revolutionary changes. This is precisely why labour law is designed to contain unions, limit their scope and activities, and tie them into lengthy official procedures -and why every effort is made to weaken, corrupt and destroy unions.

Lenin, too, never denied that unions could play a role in a transition to socialism. His argument was, rather, that unions could become revolutionary, only if led by a revolutionary workers party aiming at state power.

But this vanguardist politics -the party first, the union as ‘transmission belt’ for party instructions -still rested on a profound underestimation of the potential of unions. It also rested upon a fatal overestimation of the value of so-called workers parties. Subordination to a party that aims at state power political unionism – centralises unions, replaces workers’ control of the unions with party control; it leaves politics and transformation to the party; rather than overcome reformism and economism, it inevitably promotes it.

The history of workers’ political parties, whether reformist labour parties, or revolutionary communist parties, and of nationalist parties, as forces for popular emancipation, is absolutely dismal. Rather than bring workers to power, they have repeatedly betrayed, broken, corrupted, divided and repressed workers’ movements like unions. The fall of the African National Congress (ANC) is nothing exceptional.

The problem is not that these parties have the wrong programme, or bad leaders – as those who insist on trying to rerun the failed project also claim -but the fact that transformation by the immense majority in the interests of the immense majority cannot come through the state.

The state is a centralised, undemocratic structure that entrenches minority class rule; rather than change the state, the parties are changed by the state, their leaders co-opted into the ruling class and its agendas. Simply put: elections and dictators are not the solution.

Prefiguration and transition
Unions can certainly contribute to a new, better society in which there is a massive redistribution of power and wealth to the popular classes, including the workers and the poor. But as Lenin’s Bolshevik Revolution in 1917-where a labour-repressive dictatorial Tsarist regime was simply replaced with a labour-repressive dictatorial Marxist regime -shows, real change must take place in a way that does not just replace one elite with another.

This means rejecting the party form and the capture of state power, in favour of mass movements that can transfer power directly to the people. Bottom-up participatory trade unions are the most efficient, the most creative, the most innovative and the most responsive types of union.

We need to move from the idea that unions must be centralised, and also from the idea that unions’ future lies in servicing members. A radical union movement of this sort defends its members, and fights for daily improvements. lt’s a participative model where the members are the union, not customers, and where union leadership is essentially about facilitating a bottom-up unionism. The important thing is accumulating organisational power and promoting popular consciousness to contribute to a society where ordinary people are in charge.

But they can also prefigure and then help create a radical change in society, by developing the ideas and structures that can lay the basis for a new social order. To place power and wealth in the hands of ordinary people requires, not a state, not a party, but a system of worker and community assemblies and councils in a self­managed, egalitarian order based on participatory planning, common ownership and distribution by need.

This was precisely what was shown in the Spanish revolution by the CNT. After decades of failed land reform, corrupt government, chasms of poverty and inequality, and the failure of the parties, the CNT – with its popular allies, and providing direction to rival unions – undertook one of the most profound revolutions in history. And the bottom-up CNT structures formed the core of the new society.

Beyond ‘servicing’ members
We need to move beyond the idea that unions are just needed in conflicts, to thinking about how unions can provide a space for collective action, class identity, unity across divides of race, ethnicity, and country, and self-activity. The core of a counter-hegemonic project is the development of popular capacities and escalating demands. This requires creativity and innovation.

There is no reason why union investment funds cannot be redirected into organising drives, an alternative mass media, and the basis of union-run clinics, recreational facilities and schools. Along with this is the need for much more branch control of union funds.

This is not a crude workerism, but a revolutionary class politics that is solidarity based, egalitarian, is anti-racist, anti-colonial, anti-sexist ­opposed to all forms of oppression. Not a party-led political unionism, but a profoundly revolutionary unionism. It means taking a lead in fighting against oppression, for the emancipation of women, against war and empire, and for freedom for all. This is not new: it’s the core of old left traditions like anarcho­syndicalism.

Values and rank-and-files
Many challenges unions face are linked to capitalist restructuring, but we need to also be very clear about states. Unionists commonly speak of capitalism as the main problem, but it’s not the only one unions face.

lt is clear from African and Latin American experiences that states wreak havoc. They are the largest employers and they actively aim to capture union leaderships. Rather than corporatist bodies and parties in government helping unions, these enable the state to exert control over unions.

In place of parties, it makes more sense for unions to be part of a revolutionary front of the oppressed classes, based on community, youth and other formations, aiming at deep change, and to also expand beyond traditional constituencies into organising the unemployed and so-called self-employed. The muscle of unions at the point of production can aid the rest of the front, and the front can aid unions through, for example, consumer boycotts.

All of this requires serious reform in the unions – reform that will inevitably be resisted by parts of the union bureaucracy, and definitely by the political parties. It must, therefore, rest upon a rank-and-file movement to change the unions from below -a movement in all the unions -into part of a working class counter-power, armed with clear ideas and a programme.

**Lucien van der Walt is at Rhodes University, and has long been involved in the working-class movement. This article is based on an input at the FES – Trade Union Competence Centre conference in October 2017 themed, ‘Challenges for Trade Unions in Sub-Saharan Africa: the members are the union, aren’t they?’

** Source: Lucien van der Walt, 2018, "From Union Renewal to a Self-Managed Society: Towards an anarcho-syndicalist project," South African Labour Bulletin, volume 42, number 1, pp. 27-30.

Ελλάδα / Τουρκία / Κύπρος / Αντιφασισμός / Ανακοίνωση Τύπου Thursday December 13, 2018 18:30 byΑντιρατσιστική Ομάδα Αλβανών Μεταναστών

Για μας η λογική της διεθνιστικής αλληλεγγύης βασίζεται στην διαμόρφωση δικτύων μεταξύ ομάδων και συλλογικοτήτων σε διάφορες χώρες, ειδικά στα Βαλκάνια, οι οποίες έχουν έρθει σε ρήξη με το πνεύμα του εθνικισμού και του πατριωτισμού, και που έχουν σαν απώτερο σκοπό του κοινωνικούς και ταξικούς αγώνες ενάντια στο κεφάλαιο και τις ιμπεριαλιστικές δυνάμεις. Αυτό σημαίνει ότι δεν θα αναλωθούμε στις “ιστορικές αλήθειες του παρελθόντος” αλλά στα ζητήματα του άμεσου και μακρινού μέλλοντος έχοντας ως αφετηρία τους συλλογικούς κοινούς μας αγώνες.

Ο αγώνας ενάντια στον φασισμό και τον εθνικισμό είναι πάνω απ ‘όλα ένας διεθνιστικός ταξικός αγώνας.

Αυτές τις μέρες, στην Λευκίμμη της Κέρκυρας έλαβε χώρα μια στυγερή, θρασύδειλη, βάρβαρη, ρατσιστική δολοφονία ενός μετανάστη εργάτη γης από την Αλβανία. Πρόκειται για τον 63χρονο οικογενειάρχη Πετρίτ Ζίφλε. Θρασύδειλη, γιατί ο δολοφόνος τον πυροβόλησε πισώπλατα αφού του είχε στήσει καρτέρι, έτσι όπως κάνουν οι δειλοί δολοφόνοι χρυσαυγίτες. Βάρβαρη γιατί τον πέταξε σε ένα χαντάκι χωρίς να σεβαστεί το άψυχο σώμα του. Φαίνεται ότι το εθνικιστικό παραλήρημα που έχει αναζωπυρωθεί τελευταία με αφορμή την ονομασία της Μακεδονίας, αλλά και ύστερα από την δολοφονία του εθνικιστή Κατσίφα από την αλβανική αστυνομία, στο οποίο συνέβαλαν με «συνέπεια» και αφοσίωση τα ΜΜΕ ήταν αρκετά για να οπλίσουν το χέρι του δολοφόνου τρέφοντας το εκδικητικό του μίσος.

Είναι γεγονός ότι δεν είναι πρώτη φορά που είμαστε μάρτυρες αυτών των απάνθρωπων και βάρβαρων δράσεων. Η λίστα με τους δολοφονημένους μετανάστες από τα χέρια τον φασιστών, αστυνομικών αλλά και εθνικοφρόνων Ελλήνων πολιτών είναι μακρά ξεκινώντας από τις αρχές του ‘90 μέχρι και σήμερα. Θύματά τους οι απλοί εργάτες μετανάστες που παλεύουν για ένα μεροκάματο, ανυπεράσπιστοι απέναντι στις ορέξεις των αφεντικών, εκτεθειμένοι στην άγρια εκμετάλλευση και την μαύρη εργασία.

Ωστόσο αν αποδίδουμε αυτές τις δολοφονίες μονάχα σε ένθερμους υπερασπιστές και οπαδούς της Χρυσής Αυγής, αστυνομικούς και μη, προφανώς σφάλουμε. Οι ρίζες είναι βαθύτερες και στέρεες στις οποίες βασίστηκε η δράση και η ιδεολογία της Χρυσής Αυγής. Και είναι βέβαιο ότι και πριν η Χρυσή Αυγή βγάλει το κεφάλι από τη τρύπα της, η καλλιέργεια και η επικράτηση ενός κλίματος ξενοφοβίας από τους κρατικούς μηχανισμούς και τα ΜΜΕ, κοινωνικού ρατσισμού και κοινωνικών διακρίσεων, κρατικής καταστολής με την ανοχή της κοινής γνώμης, ήταν και εξακολουθούν να είναι βασικές πρακτικές που υφίστανται καθημερινά οι μετανάστες. Ο σκοπός αυτών είναι ο έλεγχος της μετανάστευσης φτάνοντας συχνά στο σημείο σωματικής εξόντωσης, διασφαλίζοντας την κοινωνική ασφάλεια από την εξωτερική και εσωτερική απειλή, αλλά και την οικονομική εκμετάλλευση και την υποδούλωση τους.

Το πνεύμα του εθνικισμού και του εθνικιστικού παραληρήματος δεν είναι ένα καινούργιο φαινόμενο. Βασίζεται στην διαχρονική διατήρηση και ενίσχυση του εθνικού κορμού ο οποίος αποτελούσε έναν από τους τρεις πυλώνες που χαρακτήριζαν το πνεύμα του νεοελληνισμού. Πατρίς, θρησκεία, οικογένεια. Παρόλο που αυτό το τρίπτυχο συνδέεται με τις εποχή των δύο δικτατοριών και αποτελούσαν την ιδεολογική τους βάση, αυτά διέπουν σε ένα μεγάλο βαθμό τον κυρίαρχο πνεύμα που επικράτησε και μετά το 74. Για να υφίσταται ένα συμπαγές έθνος με ομοιογένεια, που σημαίνει ότι οποιαδήποτε εθνοτική ή θρησκευτική ιδιαιτερότητα θα πρέπει να πεταχτεί έξω από τα σύνορα ή στην καλύτερη περίπτωση να αφομοιωθεί, αυτοί οι τρεις πυλώνες θα πρέπει να βρίσκονται σε πλήρη αρμονία. Ο ένας στηρίζει τον άλλον. Η διαταραχή της αρμονίας σημαίνει απώλεια ή και διαταραχή της εθνικής ή θρησκευτικής συνείδησης, σημαίνει απώλεια ή μαρασμό της πατριαρχικής εξουσίας. Επομένως όλες οι συντηρητικές δυνάμεις της κοινωνίας βρίσκουν έκφραση και ταλαντεύονται ανάμεσά σε αυτούς. Υπό αυτή την οπτική γωνία, ο ερχομός των μεταναστών εργατών και οικογενειών τους θεωρείται απειλή για τον εθνικό κορμό, όπως θεωρείται απειλή η κάθε κοινωνική οργανωμένη πολιτική ομάδα ή κοινότητα που αμφισβητεί στην πράξη την έννοια του έθνος και ενστερνίζεται τον διεθνισμό. Επίσης οι κοινωνικές ομάδες που υιοθετούν διαφορετικούς σεξουαλικούς προσανατολισμούς θεωρούνται απειλή που ενδέχεται να αμφισβητήσει τις παραδοσιακές μορφές μιας πατριαρχικής οικογένειας. Οι προσφυγικές και μεταναστευτικές ροές από την Μέση Ανατολή, Νότια Ασία και Βόρεια Αφρική επίσης αποτελούν απειλή ως “θρησκευτικά άλλοι”. Δυστυχώς αυτό το τρίπτυχο είχε οπλίσει τα χέρια των δολοφόνων του Ζακ, του Λουκμάν, του Φύσσα, του Γρηγορόπουλου, του Ζίφλε όλων αυτών που θεωρούνται ιδεολογικά, φυλετικά, εθνικά, σεξουαλικά, θρησκευτικά διαφορετικοί και επικίνδυνοι για την υπόλοιπη κοινωνία, επικίνδυνοι γιατί μολύνουν και υποσκάπτουν την ισορροπία του συμπαγούς τρίπτυχου.

Κάθε χώρα, ειδικά στα Βαλκάνια, στηρίζει και καλλιεργεί τον δικό της εθνικό κορμό. Έτσι βασίζονται για παράδειγμα στο πνεύμα του “αλβανισμού” ή του “πανσλαβισμού”, στο δικά τους δίπτυχα ή τρίπτυχα. Αναζητούν στα βάθη του ιστορικού παρελθόντος το δικό τους “εθνικό δίκαιο”, βγάζοντας στην επιφάνεια αδικίες, γεγονότα, ιστορικά δεδομένα και τα χρησιμοποιούν σαν τεκμήρια για την ιστορική τους δικαίωση. Ωστόσο είναι αναμφίβολο ότι αυτό ανοίγει το δρόμο για την καλλιέργεια του μίσους απέναντι στους άλλους λαούς, υιοθετώντας τα δικά τους εθνικιστικά αφηγήματα και το εθνικιστικό παραλήρημα.

Είναι βέβαιο ότι απέναντι σε αυτό το πνεύμα, σε οποιαδήποτε χώρα και αν βρίσκεται και και καλλιεργείται, αποτελούμε μια πραγματική απειλή, έχοντας ασπαστεί το πνεύμα της διεθνιστικής αλληλεγγύης. Ας είμαστε ρεαλιστές. Τα λόγια περί συμφιλίωσης των λαών είναι πολιτικάντικες δημαγωγίες που εξυπηρετούν άλλους πολιτικούς και οικονομικούς σκοπούς των κρατών και κυβερνήσεων. Από την μια μιλούν για συμφιλίωση και από την άλλη σκάβουν στους λαβύρινθους των ιστορικών γεγονότων με την λογική να εδραιώσουν και να ενισχύσουν τον εθνικό κορμό. Για μας η λογική της διεθνιστικής αλληλεγγύης βασίζεται στην διαμόρφωση δικτύων μεταξύ ομάδων και συλλογικοτήτων σε διάφορες χώρες, ειδικά στα Βαλκάνια, οι οποίες έχουν έρθει σε ρήξη με το πνεύμα του εθνικισμού και του πατριωτισμού, και που έχουν σαν απώτερο σκοπό του κοινωνικούς και ταξικούς αγώνες ενάντια στο κεφάλαιο και τις ιμπεριαλιστικές δυνάμεις. Αυτό σημαίνει ότι δεν θα αναλωθούμε στις “ιστορικές αλήθειες του παρελθόντος” αλλά στα ζητήματα του άμεσου και μακρινού μέλλοντος έχοντας ως αφετηρία τους συλλογικούς κοινούς μας αγώνες.

Αντιρατσιστική Ομάδα Αλβανών Μεταναστών στην Αθήνα

international / history / review Thursday December 13, 2018 03:12 byWayne Price

A review of Peter Gelderloos'anarchist analysis of how states are formed and developed.

It it important for anarchism to have a theory of the state, the fundamentals of government, its origins and development. This is my third essay on this topic, the first being a presentation of the class theory of the state, as held by both anarchists and Marxists (Price 2018a). The second was a review of a “post-anarchist” analysis of the state, proposed by Saul Newman (Price 2018b). This is a review of Peter Gelderloos’ analysis of the nature of the state and its origins.

Gelderloos defines the state as “a bureaucratic, territorial, coercive organization with multiple levels of administration, in which power is institutional rather than personal, and power-holders monopolize (…) the legitimate use of force….” (5) “The state [is] a centralized, hierarchical system of political organization based on coercion and alienation….” (14) These are fine definitions.

In his broad overview of state formation, Gelderloos has two fundamental hypotheses. The first is his opposition to any specific theory of state origins. States are not the result of any one special force, but are the end result of all sorts of factors, he argues. “State formation is a multilineal process and not a teleological progressive evolution.” (Gerderloss 2016; 234) “States…are…a social arrangement that evolved following a wide variety of evolutionary pathways, in very different conditions, on different continents.” (13) His book is a hotch-potch collection of accounts of state formations, in no particular order, covering all sorts of possible causes in specific cases. This includes cultural and religious factors, as well as military, political, and geographic factors, among others. He ends up with no less than fifteen “models” of state formation. (233—234) That many factors go into the formation of each specific state is undoubtedly true. The question is whether any underlying generalizations can be made about the main factor or factors.

What I take to be his second main thesis is the rejection of the class (or historical materialist) theory of the state. He rejects the view that the state grows out of the tendency of early humanity to create a surplus which results in early class divisions (developing out of other early social divisions such as gender, age, or special knowledge). He regards the hypothesis that the state exists “to regulate economic production and surplus value” to be as “demonstrably false” as the myth that it exists “to protect individual rights through a social contract.” (1) On the contrary, Gelderloos insists that the state was first formed and then it promoted class division and exploitation. In his view, the state does not serve capitalism (feudalism, slavery, etc.) but capitalism serves the state.

He claims that this is the classical anarchist view of Bakunin and Kropotkin (which I do not think is true; Price 2018a). He quotes Bakunin, “If there is a state, there must be domination of one class by another, and as a result, slavery; the state without slavery in unthinkable….” (4—5) He writes, “Capitalism can easily be read as the motor of the modern state…. Sometimes capitalists have modernized government in order to increase their power.” ((6—7) These views would seem to contradict his own generalization.

It would be difficult to demonstrate, historically or by anthropology, either that the state created class societies or that class societies created the state. As Gelderloos agrees, very few statist systems began ab novo. Almost all states we know about began in societies which already had states—and had class systems of exploitation. Summarizing the evidence, he makes the important statement, “As a general rule, reciprocity is the basis of society and culture.” (7) This is to say that class division created the state and the state created class division and so on, back and forth, intertwined, at the same time, (dialectically, if you will).

While Gelderloos discusses various possible pathways to state formation, he repeatedly returns to one model: early elites creating a state to serve their interests. “Local elites within the preexisting autochthonous hierarchies were impressed by the greater power amassed by elites in neighboring societies and sought to copy them.” (38) “The exigencies of warfare…are exploited by an endogenous proto-elite to create a pathway for increasing social discipline and hierarchy. “ (53) “The ascendance of the council and other institutional forms of leadership in the [early] Kuba state reflect a push by the elite to extend their power….” (5) “Incipient elites used military brotherhoods and resurgent patriarchy to establish a new kind of state authority.” (133) “State formation was a strategic act of elite will.” (153)

He does not discuss who were these elites which existed before the state but which deliberately created states to serve their interests. Were they not the local lords, rich farmers, clan leaders, patriarchs, slave holders, and so on—proto-ruling classes—who made states to expand their wealth and their power over others’ labor? This is the view of the class theory.

“Primitive Accumulation” by the State

Against “the matter of economic accumulation…as the motor of state formation…,”Gelderloos says, “the very notion of understanding (…) the economy as a distinct sphere of social life is problematic….” (138) He does not realize that the idea of the distinction between the economy and the state was created by the experience of capitalism. Almost for the first time, the ruling class did not need to directly manage the state. Capitalist enterprises were run by businesspeople and their managers, while professional politicians could manage the state. In the U.S.A. today, the state claims legitimacy as “democratic,” while the capitalist economy is justified on the basis of “freedom.”

Gelderloos is right to challenge this apparent distinction between the capitalist market and the state. But then what becomes of his chicken-or-the-egg-which-came-first argument about which causes which? Are we not back to the “reciprocal” (dialectical) understanding that each causes the other? “History has been shaped by the conflict between rulers and ruled” (3) which is also the conflict between exploiters and exploited.

It may surprise Gelderloos, but that was the perspective of Karl Marx. In his discussion of “primitive” (or “previous” or “primary”) accumulation, which began capitalism, Marx emphasized the role of the state and other non-market forces. “In general history, it is notorious that conquest, enslavement, robbery, murder, briefly force, play the great part….The history of this, [the workers’] expropriation, is written in the annals of mankind in letters of blood and fire.” (Marx 1906; 785—6) The different methods of “primitive accumulation,” in different countries and different times, “all employ the power of the state, the concentrated and organized force of society, to hasten, hothouse fashion, the process of transformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode, and to shorten the transition. Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one. It is itself an economic power.” (823—4)

Kropotkin criticized Marx’s concept of “primitive accumulation,” only because he thought it gave the impression that state support of capitalism was solely in its early period. Kropotkin insisted that the state continued to intervene in the economy, to prop up capitalism. “Force” continues to be “an economic power.”

The Marxist geographer, David Harvey, writes, “In recent times, several commentators, including myself, have suggested that we need to take the continuity of primitive accumulation throughout the historical geography of capitalism seriously. Rosa Luxemburg put that question firmly on the agenda a century ago.” (Harvey 2010; 305) The accumulation of capital, not only through exploitation of labor but also through state expropriation of existing wealth, has become ubiquitous. Harvey prefers to call it today, “accumulation by dispossession.” (310) This is consistent with the views of anarchists such as Kropotkin.

Program to Destroy the State

Gelderloos has not written an academic work. With justification, he wants to strengthen the anarchist case against the state, to encourage “an unambiguous desire to destroy the state.” (234) He wants to refute the liberal and reform socialist view that the state can be used to improve society in a consistent and permanent way. “No party has ever stood in the way of capitalism, yet people keep on voting.” (238) He rejects the Marxist-Leninist program of overthrowing this state and replacing it with a new state (the “dictatorship of the proletariat”). He has an ambivalent discussion of the Kurdish movement in Rojava. This has been influenced by anarchism but “they have not made a complete rupture with preexisting governmental and capitalist institutions.” (239)

Rojava aside, there are ambiguities in his programmatic approach. Since he sees capitalism as primarily a tool of the state, he does not advocate “socialism” (let alone “libertarian communism”), as did Bakunin and Kropotkin. He only uses “socialism” to mean “state socialism” rather than “libertarian socialism” (anarchism). Since he regards exploitation as only secondary to state domination, he does not emphasize the popular struggles of workers and other oppressed and exploited people. How wealth is generated and distributed is not central to his analysis of society.

He apparently opposes mass movements making demands on the state (such as ending specific wars, raising minimum wages, outlawing discrimination of women or People of Color, etc.) Instead anarchists should “disparage state representatives, insult them, mock them, ignore them, or silence them.” (244) Disrespecting politicians is all right but not a strategy for destroying the state. Instead of working class struggles, he advocates “refusal to pay taxes,…willfully breaking every law that one can get away with….rejecting or abstaining from the private communications technologies that states increasingly use to monitor their subjects….using cash instead of credit cards….” (244) These are mostly individual, rather than mass actions. This too is hardly a program for overthrowing the state. Gelderloos praises anarchist and other terrorists who have assassinated “monarchs, generals, presidents, and governors.” (246) Without shedding tears for the monarchs, etc., we have to acknowledge that such deeds (outside of the context of revolutionary wars) often killed all sorts of working people, antagonized the popular masses, and resulted in jailing or killing many good militants.

Peter Gelderloos raises many important questions about the relation of the state, its origin, and its future to economic, popular, and class forces. There is very little current material on the anarchist view of the state and this book makes a significant contribution.

Gelderloos, Peter (2016). Worshipping Power: An Anarchist View of Early State Formation. Chico CA: AK Press.

Harvey, David (2010). A Companion to Marx’s Capital. Vol. 1. London UK: Verso.

Marx, Karl (1906). Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Vol. 1. NY: Modern Library.

Price, Wayne (2018a). “An Anarchist View of the Class Theory of the State.” Anarkismo.

Price, Wayne (2018b). “Post-Anarchism on the State—An Anarchist Critique.” Anarkismo.

*written for

Η αυτοοργάνωση είναι το πρώτο και κύριο βήμα προς τον στόχο μας
Το άρθρο αυτό εξηγεί εν ολίγοις την κατάσταση που βρίσκονται οι αναρχικοί στο Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο, υπενθυμίζοντας ότι δεν μπορούμε να περιμένουμε άλλο, πρέπει εδώ και τώρα να αυτοοργανωθούμε πριν είναι αργά.

Τον Ιούνιο του 2017 έγραψα ένα άρθρο με τίτλο ”Ο αγώνας μας πρέπει να πάει πιο πέρα από αυτό που απαιτεί ο τρόπος ζωής μας». Σε αυτό το άρθρο τόνισα μερικούς σημαντικούς παράγοντες που μπορεί να αποτελούν εμπόδια στον δρόμο των αγώνων μας. Από τότε που έγραψα αυτό το άρθρο, η ζωή μας στο Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο έχει χειροτερέψει με κάθε τρόπο. Αλλά, για τους αναρχικούς, τίποτα δεν άλλαξε, χωρίς βελτίωση και χωρίς ανάπτυξη στον αγώνα μας ενάντια στο σύστημα. Στην πραγματικότητα υπήρξε περισσότερος σεχταρισμός, με τις ομάδες να διατηρούν μεγαλύτερη απόσταση μεταξύ τους, μακριά από τη συνεργασία και την αλληλεγγύη και πιο διαιρεμένοι όσον αφορά το νόμο για την αναγνώριση των φύλων (Gender Recognition Act - GRA).

Το κράτος, μέσα από τα όργανά του, προσπαθεί μερ πείσμα να αυξήσει την επιρροή και την πίεσή του, υπερφορτώνοντας τους ανθρώπους μέσω της αγοράς, των χρηματοπιστωτικών ιδρυμάτων και του εκπαιδευτικού συστήματος, υπονομεύοντας και αποθαρρύνοντάς τους. Προσπαθεί να εκτρέψει τις προθέσεις του μακριά από τα πραγματικά προβλήματα που αντιμετωπίζουμε τώρα. Το Εργατικό Κόμμα επίσης, με το πιο ριζοσπαστικό μανιφέστο του, πιθανότατα από τον Δεύτερο Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο, αναισθητοποίησε πολλούς ανθρώπους από την εργατική τάξη, φοιτητές, συνταξιούχους, αναπήρους και άτομα με ειδικές ανάγκες. Και τα δύο κόμματα, το ένα στην εξουσία και το άλλο στην αντιπολίτευση, με τους κάθε είδους αριστερούς, σε διαφορετικούς δρόμους, βρίσκονται σε συμφωνία για τη διατήρηση του συστήματος προσπαθώντας να το μεταρρυθμίσουν, να παρατείνουν την ηλικία του.

Η μόνη διαφορά μεταξύ τους είναι ότι το κόμμα στην εξουσία σπεύδει να καταστήσει την κατάσταση χειρότερη για την εργατική τάξη και τους άλλους απλούς ανθρώπους. Η αντιπολίτευση θέλει να μεταρρυθμίσει το σύστημα για να το παρατείνει. Με άλλα λόγια, καθένας από αυτούς θέλει να μας καταστείλει με τις μεταρρυθμίσεις τους.

Το σύστημα, το κράτος και οι οργανώσεις από τα αριστερά προς τα δεξιά μπορεί να έχουν μικρή απόσταση ή εχθρότητα μεταξύ τους, αλλά όλοι συνειδητά ή ασυνείδητα αγωνίζονται άμεσα ή έμμεσα εναντίον των απλών ανθρώπων, του κινήματος και των στόχων τους.

Με λίγα λόγια το κράτος και το σύστημά του είναι πολύ ζωντανό, πολύ ισχυρό και καλά οργανωμένο. Είναι πολύ μακριά από το να βρεθεί σε μια κρίση και, κατά τη γνώμη μου, ποτέ δεν βρισκόταν σε κρίση. Δυστυχώς, θα είναι πιο κυρίαρχο, ασκώντας πιο ισχυρό έλεγχο σε βάρος μας, κυριαρχώντας όχι μόνο την καθημερινή μας ζωή αλλά και τα μυαλά μας και το σώμα μας.

Δεν είναι το σύστημα ή ο καπιταλισμός σε κρίση, είμαστε εμείς και η κρίση είμαστε εμείς **. Πρέπει να παραδεχτούμε ότι βρισκόμαστε σε πολύ βαθιά κρίση οικονομικά, οικονομικά, εκπαιδευτικά, ηθικά και πολιτιστικά.

Πώς μπορούμε να εξέλθουμε από αυτή την κατάσταση;

Δεν υπάρχει αμφιβολία ότι υπάρχουν ομάδες στο Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο που προσπαθούν σκληρά να εκπαιδευτούν και να οργανώσουν δραστηριότητες. Διοργανώνουν δημόσιες συναντήσεις, συμμετέχουν σε διαδηλώσεις και διαμαρτυρίες και στηρίζουν τους εργαζόμενους όταν βρίσκονται σε απεργία. Αλλά αυτό δεν αρκεί. Όλες αυτές οι ενέργειες μπορεί να μην μας οδηγήσουν ενώ είμαστε μια μικρή μειοψηφία και όχι μόνο ανάμεσα στο κοινό αλλά ακόμη και ανάμεσα στους εαυτούς μας, τους αναρχικούς.

Γνωρίζω ότι σε αυτή τη χώρα ο αγώνας ενάντια στο σύστημα είναι ίσως πιο δύσκολος απ’ ό,τι στις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες. Είμαστε παραδοσιακά μη επαναστάτες καθώς δεν είχαμε εδώ μια πραγματικά εξέγερση ή επανάσταση. Αυτό που είχαμε ήταν μια γενική απεργία πριν από περίπου έναν αιώνα, από τις 3 έως τις 12 Μαΐου του 1926. Είχαμε επίσης πολλές απεργίες, αλλά οι κυριότερες ήταν οι απεργίες του λιμανιού του Λονδίνου του 1949 και του 1957, η απεργία των ναυτικών του 1960, η απεργία στην αποβάθρα Thames το 1972, η απεργία των ανθρακωρύχων 1984-1985, της διαμάχης και της απεργίας του Wapping το 1986 και της απεργίας των ωρολογοποιών στη Dandy το 1992. Ωστόσο, σχεδόν όλοι αυτοί οι αγώνες ηττήθηκαν λόγω της έλλειψης αλληλεγγύης, προδοσίας από το Εργατικό Κόμμα και των ηγετών των συνδικάτων καθώς και της βιαιότητας του κράτους. Μπορούμε επίσης να σημειώσουμε ότι, αν όχι όλοι, σίγουρα η πλειοψηφία τους αγωνίστηκε κατά των εργοδοτών τους και το κράτος, αλλά από θέση άμυνας και όχι από θέση επίθεσης.

Τούτου λεχθέντος, αυτό δεν σημαίνει ότι το κίνημα παραμένει πάντα αδύναμο και χωρισμένο όπως είναι τώρα. Αλλά αυτή είναι η πραγματικότητα του εργατικού κινήματος σήμερα, καθώς είναι πολύ αδύναμο και ο καπιταλισμός είναι εξαιρετικά ισχυρός.

Είναι καιρός οι αναρχικοί να συγκεντρωθούν και να αφήσουν κατά μέρος τις μικρές, μη ουσιαστικές διαφορές τους, προκειμένου να οργανωθούν σε ανεξάρτητες, μη ιεραρχικές τοπικές ομάδες όπου και αν βρίσκονται. Δεν μπορούμε απλώς να περιμένουμε να ωριμάσει η κατάσταση ή να μεγαλώσει και να αναπτυχθεί το κίνημα γιατί θα γίνει μέρος αυτού. Το κίνημα δεν μας περιμένει. Δεν υπάρχει αμφιβολία εάν το κίνημα υφίσταται συμβαίνει, μπορούμε να είμαστε μέρος του, αλλά θα είναι αργά και, επίσης, δεν θα ξεκινήσουμε ή θα εμπλακούμε από μια ισχυρή θέση.

Η οργάνωση των εαυτών μας είναι απαραίτητη και μέσω αυτής μπορούμε να συμμετέχουμε στην εξέγερση και την επανάσταση από ισχυρή θέση και αποτελεσματικά. Αυτό δεν σημαίνει ότι δεν μπορούμε να οργανώσουμε τους εαυτούς μας, οικοδομώντας τις απαραίτητες ομάδες κατά τη διάρκεια της εξέγερσης. Ωστόσο, η ιστορία της λεγόμενης επανάστασης του Ιράν το 1978-79 και η πρόσφατη «Αραβική Άνοιξη», ειδικά στη Συρία, εξαιρώντας το Κουρδικό τμήμα (Ροτζάβα) και την Αίγυπτο, έδειξαν ότι η οικοδόμηση ομάδων και οργανώσεων κατά τη διάρκεια της εξέγερσης ήταν αποτελεσματική. Μόλις η εξέγερση και η επανάσταση νικούσαν, έχαναν το δυναμισμό τους και γίνονταν αναποτελεσματικοί.

Προφανώς υπάρχουν πολλοί λόγοι γι’ αυτό, αλλά το κύριο είναι πως οτιδήποτε εμφανίζεται κατά τη διάρκεια ή για ένα συγκεκριμένο γεγονός, όταν το γεγονός είναι πάνω από τις ομάδες και τις οργανώσεις είναι συνήθως πάνω από πάρα πολύ. Οι μοναδικές ομάδες που υπάρχουν σήμερα και διατηρούν τη θέση τους είναι εκείνες που υπήρχαν πριν από την εξέγερση, αν και δεν είναι ενεργές όπως ήταν.

Βρισκόμαστε τώρα ανάμεσα σε μερικές επιλογές. Αφήνουμε την αλλαγή της κοινωνίας στους «εκπροσώπους» μας μέσω του κοινοβουλευτικού συστήματος ή παίρνουμε έντονα μέρος, με τους απλούς ανθρώπους, στην αλλαγή του. Αν επιλέξουμε τη δεύτερη, πρέπει να είμαστε σοβαροί, καθώς θα χρειαστεί να δώσουμε μέρος του χρόνου μας είτε είμαστε εργαζόμενοι, άνεργοι, σπουδαστές, συνταξιούχοι ή οτιδήποτε άλλο είναι η κατάστασή μας. Αποτελεί άγνοια και αδιάφορη στάση να πιστεύουμε σε κάτι, αλλά δεν μην κάνουμε γι’ αυτό. Είναι επίσης μια εγωιστική στάση να περιμένετε άλλους να το κάνουν για σας. Δεν υπάρχει δικαιολογία.

*Το κείμενο δημοσιεύτηκε στα κουρδικά στην σελίδα του συγγραφέα

**Ελληνική μετάφραση: Ούτε Θεός-Ούτε Αφέντης.

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#Nobastan3Causales: seguimos luchando por aborto libre en Chile

#Nobastan3Causales: seguimos luchando por aborto libre en Chile

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