A libertarian and post-situationist manifesto for our current times.
Written by APS for his personal blog, and republished by Bandilang Itim.
We are a circle of friends who have come to a realization that the world as it is has not only failed us but is also actively antagonistic towards Art as a form of individual expression and oppressive towards the Soul as the sum total of human experiences. We have come to a consensus that this toxic state of affairs is not the product of an individual, nor even a group of individuals, but a byproduct of how our society is organized. There are three main things which we consider to be the cause:
1. The Tyranny of the State on Society
With their monopoly on violence by means of the military and the police, our so called “representatives” and politicians are able to prop up their own agendas and maintain the power structures that benefit them. By this same method, they are able to take parts of the natural world and claim it as the property of the State, and interfere in the personal and public lives of the people it claims as its own. What was once the right of the community to decide for itself what is best for themselves, is now forced upon them by “elected officials” chosen from the existing ruling elite. Those that do not conform to the State are branded outlaws and are often violently oppressed, leading to unnecessary bloodshed. Not to mention the power struggles that States love to take part in, especially in partnership with —
2. The Tyranny of Private Property and Capitalism on the Physical World
Private property, protected from “theft” by the violence of the State, keeps the means of production of society's needs in the hands of a handful of people, who benefit from the labor of the many. The products of this labor is then sold for a greater price than it cost to produce it. This means that in order to gain profits, it needs to pay the workers less than the value they created. And because the success of businesses of any scale is determined by profits, it must continue extracting, producing and distributing their products or services to their markets regardless of the actual need for them. This leads to the continued pillaging of nature that causes the horrors of climate change that we have only just begun to see the effects of. Another consequence of this quest for the most profit is the elevation of competition from being a consequence of conflict to a virtue. They misinterpret Darwin in that this will always lead to better products and ways of producing them, as if profit is related to quality at all. Competition as virtue, as well as the workers not owning the means to earn a living, results in a very visceral feeling of alienation from others, one's work and their own potential as a person.
3. The Tyranny of the Spectacle upon the Mind and The Mental World
Put simply, the Spectacle is the sum total of all social relation mediated by images. All that was once lived directly, is now consumed by spectators, keeping the downtrodden and oppressed complacent while under the thumb of the capitalist and the watchful eye of the State. It comes with pre-packaged identities that serve to only further legitimize the existence of the ruling class and divide the people along racial, gender, and religious lines, as well as according to the media they consume. This results in the masses competing against each other as opposed to uniting under a single cause to overthrow the existing order. The Spectacle deals in images, both real and metaphorical. We recognize Patriarchy, for example, as a system of images that people are reduced down to and are forced to conform to. Deviance from the roles and images the Spectacle has given a person will be isolated further, and in many cases, come to personal harm. This is only one out of many, all of which must be dealt with if we are to truly build a society built on freedom, equity and solidarity.
Against these systemic tyrannies we, at a personal level, do our best confront their manifestations and educate the people around us. At a larger scale, we push efforts towards raising awareness towards social, economic and ecological issues and link them with the corrupt systems that cause them, delegitimizing these systems and power structures in the eyes of the people. At the same time, we also seek to organize those who realize they share our views and/or goals into communities and support structures that provide an alternative to the coercive institutions put forth by the State and Capital. Our end goal is to form a social movement large enough, with enough resources and bargaining power to overthrow the existing order. That is, to abolish the State, abolish private property and finally live life under our own terms. If overthrowing the status quo involves the force of arms, then so be it.
“Gradual Reform is the only way changes in the real world could ever happen!” and other responses in that vein have all been lobbed at our position before. We maintain that reform cannot possibly benefit the vast majority of people as it gives the ruling powers enough time to adapt, and that line of thinking even assumes there is something wrong with the system, or that it doesn't work as intended. There is nothing broken about the system. It works as intended. It works to siphon power from the masses into the hands of the very few. You can't fix what isn't broken. Even the best the system can offer cannot stem the rising tide of ecological destruction and the sense of loneliness it causes. We must destroy the system of oppression that the ones in power have built, or die a horrible death in misery.
In its place, we will build society from the ground up, based on the values of Freedom, Equity and Solidarity.
- Freedom, or having the ability to choose between options one has determined for themselves, and having the resources to act upon them, free from the restrictions imposed by class, state, race, gender identity and others.
- Equity meaning having the means one needs to live life on their own terms, contribute according to their skills and talents, as well as the option to expand on these as necessary; “To each according to their need, from each according to their ability.”
- Solidarity, understanding each other’s limitations and uniting to get past them with each other’s help. A unity based on mutual needs and goals.
Too long has the specter of race, nationality and creed kept us from seeing each other as fellow human beings. Too much blood has been bled for these things which hold no meaning in the wider world we live in apart from the labels they assign to us. The fact that people put so much stock into these ideas and identities is evidence that they struggle with finding a sense of belonging, utterly lost in their everyday lives. This state of affairs might not have started as an intentional plot, but its potential to manipulate those looking for meaning in their lives was not lost upon the powers that be. The system works as intended. And we must destroy it.
As mentioned above, much work needs to be done building alternatives to the existing order even if it hasn't been overthrown. Creative collectives, worker-owned enterprises, Food Not Bombs and many others all working together to bring about the change we wish to see in the world. The work will only become greater after the collapse of the system, with everything from housing and energy, to even defense, becoming a collective endeavor of free individuals. A horizontal confederation of thousands of geographic communities, supported by a chamber of industry composed of a league of worker-owned and operated cooperatives.
Each community or municipality would be governed by a public assembly composed of its inhabitants, which then plan out things the community needs, from food and housing, all the way up to things like continuing education and the distribution of entertainment media. Worker-owned factories and workshops in the locale will take care of the demands of their own community where it can and distribute the surplus to nearby municipalities, while the products and resources that the community or its collectively-owned institutions need would then be requested from others in the confederation. The public assembly of each municipality will appoint or elect executives who will oversee each major project that the community may have in mind. It is vital that these representatives are accountable to the local community and is easily recallable by the same community that elevated them in cases where they deviate from the mandates that are given to them.
A municipality can, for example, appoint a head agriculturist who is tasked with maximizing the produce of their collective farms and ensures that it is achieved with regenerative farming practices. If for example this head agriculturist is caught using deep-cutting plows that destroy the natural ecology of the soil, or pesticides that harm local pollen-bearing insects, then the municipality's public assembly can easily remove them and install another. The same goes for any other industry, public service, and most importantly, in selecting representatives for the Confederate Assembly.
It is unavoidable that there will be products and services that some municipalities will not be able to provide for itself, and some modes of operation that is just better with a centralized production and distribution model. In cases like these, as well as in multi-municipality-spanning projects like roads, the management, procurement and expertise needed is discussed and decided upon within the Confederate Assembly. The Confederate Assembly is one composed of representatives of all the municipalities and the Chamber of Industry. Each representative of each municipality's public assembly are given mandates and demands that they are to bring to the Confederate Assembly to have them met. The logistics and production needs are distributed to the representatives of the relevant members of the Chamber of Industry, who then pass them on to their originating Unions and Co-ops.
For example, Northbay Boulevard South, a municipality of some magnitude, mainly relies on its fishing and fish-processing industries, but with little in the way of manufacturing of the furniture it needs to furnish the new school it built, adds this to the mandates it gives its Confederate Assembly representative. At the Assembly, it is found that there is a surplus of school chairs at Bagong Barrio, a town known for furniture and carpentry. If both municipalities agree to exchange or even just give away the chairs, then arrangements are made to send the furniture to Northbay Boulevard South. If such a surplus didn't exist, or if the costs of delivery outweigh the demand for them, then the demand would instead be distributed as production orders to the woodworking factories under the Chamber of Commerce in addition to fulfilling local demand.
We can continue talking about the specifics of how this sort of economy would work, but we feel as if this needs to be given its own volume to give it its due attention.
Sometimes it takes loss, disappointment and pain to be woken up to the truth, especially when it involves lies that we tell ourselves. The writer tasked with producing this manifesto certainly needed it before he came to that realization. It is with this knowledge of how the world works, and our vision for the days ahead that we take this stand against oppressive hierarchies in all its forms. It is with seeing how beautiful Life, and its reflection, Art, can be that we choose to fight against those that would seek to turn it into mere feedstock to fuel the ambition of a few rich perverts.
We do not expect this writing to convince anyone away from what they already believe. Although, in saying that, if anyone's mind has been changed, even one, then this work would have been worth it. What we expect it to do though, is to muster the support of those who already share the views and goals we have elaborated in these pages. If you feel as if your life has no meaning, if everyday at work is another day in hell, if you feel as if everyone else is just looking out for themselves, leaving you alone in the dust, then join us. If you feel as if there is no hope left in the world that is slowly being killed by the greed of a handful of psychopaths, join us. If you feel impotent and powerless against an uncaring, faceless, but all-powerful authority, then join us.
The road we will tread together won't be easy, neither will it be a quick journey. But you will not be alone. We'll topple the temple of money together a build a new world in the rubble.
And hey, if ecological Doomsday hits before we win, we can throw one last party knowing that we've done all that we can and then some. It'll be one hell of a party, and you're invited.