Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Primacy of Politics in the Libertarian Revolution


The primacy of the economic struggle was a result of a rather mechanical economic determinism. While it is crucial in a revolutionary situation that workers occupy the means of production, that alone is not enough. We saw this in Spain in 1936, the workers took over the factories and the peasants the land, but failed to smash the state. Thus the revolution went only so far, quit and then was defeated by its enemies.
 
Hence, the old Socialists were right about the primacy of the political. They just had the wrong form of politics, reducing the concept to that of parliament alone. (Since the 1960s we have known that “everything is political”) In turn, the old time syndicalists reduced politics to the parliamentary and claimed to be anti-political, even though such actions as free speech fights and attempts to liberate class war prisoners were clearly political in nature.
 
The revolution is thus a political act (more likely a series of political acts) backed by economic power. The political minus the economic means a futile revolt. The economic minus the political means at best a few reforms, but more likely a vicious counter-revolution. Both the political and the economic have to work together. Workers councils unite both, as do neighborhood assemblies working together with syndicalist union locals. The goal is popular power through assemblies and delegation. (My translation of the term and concept, poder popular, crucial to the South American anarchist program.)
 
As well as syndicalist unions, a revolutionary political organization must exist. The revolutionary organization seeks not to control the population or the revolutionary process, but merely to: 1. prevent hostile, reactionary and authoritarian elements from seizing power, 2. push the movement to smashing the state and replacing it with popular power.
 
The assemblies, both neighborhood and workplace, delegate power with instantly recallable delegates to municipal, regional, provincial and national levels – as needed. Most effort will be expended at the neighborhood, municipal and regional levels, unlike the reverse situation today with the state and its top-down bureaucratic procedures. The assemblies thus destroy the state and replace it with direct democratic popular power.
 
The experiences of the German and Russian Revolutions, as well as the Occupy Movement have shown us the potential problems and the means to offset these problems. The assemblies – at all levels – must be run by modified consensus procedure, or at the minimum, a “super democracy” requiring two thirds, or three quarters majority. A system of simple majority at the assembly level would create a great danger for the revolution. Reactionary elements who seek to disrupt the movement and vanguardists who seek to propel themselves into power and reconstitute the state, are masters at manipulating simple majority democracy.
 
Every group has the right to exclude those hostile to it. Assemblies should have constitutions or points of agreement specifying that the assemblies are open to only those people who agree that the assembly shall be the means of governance. Those opposed to the assembly concept must be excluded. 

Political parties may become involved in the assembly so long as they publicly express the primacy of the assembly in writing. Thus, counter-revolutionary and authoritarian vanguardist elements will be effectively excluded from the assemblies and popular power will not fall victim to their machinations. (And as well, the revolutionary organization(s) will be working to expose and quarantine such elements.)

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