libcom.org: an introduction

libcom.org is a resource for all people who wish to fight to improve their lives, their communities and their working conditions. We want to discuss, learn from successes and failures of the past and develop strategies to increase the power we, as ordinary people, have over our own lives.

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The problem

We wake up every day to go to work, taking orders from a manager. We sit at work counting down the minutes until we go home, counting down the days until the weekend, counting down the weeks until our next holiday, wishing our lives away. Or worse, we can't find a job, so we have to scrape by on benefits. We worry about paying the bills and making rent and we always seem to have the same bank balance at the end of every month. We wonder if we'll be able to put anything by to one day start a family, and think maybe next year. We get angry about the latest war the government's decided to start, and they're ignoring us again. We watch the latest news on climate change and wonder if our children have a future.

The problem is that every day we recreate a world that wasn't built to serve our needs and is not under our control. We are not human beings, we are human resources, cogs in a machine that knows only one purpose: profit. The endless pursuit of profit keeps us stuck in boring jobs, or looking for them when we're out of work. It keeps us worrying about the rent or mortgage payments every month when our homes were long since built and paid for. It keeps the planet on course for an environmental disaster as climate change accelerates and world leaders pontificate.

In this world, everything has its price. Every day, more and more things enter the market. A century ago it was automobiles, today even DNA and the Earth's atmosphere have a price. For those things which we enjoy most in life - friendship, love, play - the idea of giving them a price is absurd or even obscene. The idea strikes us as absurd because the market does not work by the same principles we do. 'Market forces' leave hundreds of millions starving in a world with surplus food. Millions die of preventable diseases while pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing than basic research. The market does not recognise human needs unless they are backed up with cash. The only way to get the cash is to work for a boss or claim benefits. By working for a wage, our own bodies and minds enter the market as things to be bought and sold.

When we work, we create more things which can be sold on the market. But we don't get paid the full value of what we create, otherwise there would be nothing left over as profit for the bosses. If the company can't make big enough profits, it will shut down, we will be made redundant and the money will be invested elsewhere. The bosses' interests are not the same as ours. The problem with the market is not that prices are too high or supply too short. The problem is not too much regulation or too little. The problem is that everything has a price. In the world of the market human needs only feature if those humans happen to be rich enough to satisfy them. The world's governments all work to uphold this order, sometimes with the carrots of democracy and welfare, sometimes with the sticks of dictatorship and warfare. This is not our world.

Every day, ordinary people are fighting back. Workers organise, strike, occupy and revolt, standing up for human needs in an inhuman world. This site is for them. You. Us. Those of us with nothing to sell but our labour power and nothing to lose but our chains. Those of us whose lives this deadening world sucks dry like a vampire. When we stand up for our needs, we foreshadow a different world, a world based on the principle 'from each according to ability, to each according to needs.' A world of liberty and community - libertarian communism.

The ideas

The name libcom is an abbreviation of "libertarian communism", the political idea we identify with. Libertarian communism is the political expression of the ever-present strands of co-operation and solidarity in human societies. These currents of mutual aid can be found throughout society. In tiny everyday examples such as people collectively organising a meal, or helping a stranger carry a pram down a flight of stairs. They can also manifest themselves in more visible ways, such as one group of workers having a solidarity strike in support of other workers as the BA baggage handlers did for Gate Gourmet catering staff in 2005. They can also explode and become a predominant force in society such as in the events across Argentina in 2001, in Portugal 1974, Italy in the 1960s-70s, France 1968, Hungary '56, Spain 1936, Russia 1917, Paris 1871

We identify primarily with the trends of workers' solidarity, co-operation, direct action and struggle throughout history, whether they were self-consciously libertarian communist (such as in the Spanish revolution) or not. We are also influenced by certain specific theoretical and practical traditions, such as anarchist-communism, anarcho-syndicalism, the ultra-left, left communism, libertarian Marxism, council communism and others.

We have sympathies with writers and organisations including Karl Marx, Gilles Dauvé, Maurice Brinton, Wildcat Germany, Anarchist Federation, Solidarity Federation, prole.info, Aufheben, Solidarity, the situationists, Spanish CNT and others.

However, we recognise the limitations of applying these ideas and organisational forms to contemporary society. We emphasise understanding and transforming the social relationships we experience here and now in our everyday lives to better our circumstances and protect the planet, whilst still learning from the mistakes and successes of previous working class movements and ideas.

The site

The site contains news and analysis of workers' struggles, discussions and a constantly growing archive of over 16,000 articles contributed by our 10,000+ users ranging from history and biographies to theoretical texts, complete books and pamphlets. We have incorporated several other online archives over the years, and in addition have hundreds of exclusive texts written or scanned by or for us. We are completely independent of all trade unions and political parties; the site is funded entirely by subs from our volunteer administrators and donations from users.

If you think you might agree with us, why not register and get involved?

More information

Every day, ordinary people are fighting back. Workers organise, strike, occupy and revolt, standing up for human needs in an inhuman world. This site is for them. You. Us.
libcom.org group