A statement of principles by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty

Submitted by Rory Reid on December 19, 2016

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty - About Us
A statement of principles by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty

ECAP organises to combat poverty on the principle of solidarity and self- activity in communities and workplaces, actively rejecting influence by any political parties. We work and fight alongside individuals facing poverty related problems and oppressive behaviour from the authorities. We also conduct wider campaigns on specific issues using the same principles of solidarity and self-activity. Our actions are practical examples of the differences we can make in our day-to-day lives by standing up for one another. But why does ECAP embrace self-activity and reject political parties?

Poverty is no natural disaster but a result of how people organise the world. ECAP considers poverty to be an inevitable part of an economic system based on exploitation and profit. The use of debt to generate profits gave this system a few more decades of supposed stability. But the current global crisis has burst that bubble and now standards of living for waged and unwaged are under attack as the true nature of an exploitative economy is again exposed.

ECAP regards calls for political elites to behave more fairly, appealing to an illusory ideal of ‘democracy’, to be fruitless in the long term. Politicians pursue the ‘National Interest’ which we take to mean the interests of the ruling class as we do not accept that exploiters and exploited share a common interest. To pursue change through parliamentary and electoral channels is to see our struggles dissipated, defused and co-opted. While states like to describe themselves as ‘democratic’ they are a world away from a truly democratic society. Their alleged ‘democracy’ has been adjusted over centuries to appear democratic while leaving the same fundamentally anti-democratic forces in power.

But shouldn’t we be ‘realistic’ and work within established power structures? ECAP considers that when the term ‘realistic’ is used in this way it is just a code for ‘doing what the rich want’. We do not accept that our struggles must forever obey this false logic. This is why ECAP believes that no political leadership can be trusted, that they are cynical and manipulative by nature. We instead propose that only solidarity based on recognition of shared interests can challenge the bankrupt, greed fuelled economic system. So we actively seek to encourage links between different sections of the working class, eg employed and unemployed, recent immigrants and long-term residents – we reject nationalist and other divisions.

We believe that with enough people direct action can make the rule of bosses and their political protectors unworkable. We aim to establish a truly democratic counter- power, pressurizing authorities in the here and now and giving people a means to defend themselves in their daily lives, whilst simultaneouslychallenging the whole capitalist system, demanding and working towards a world without classes, borders and oppressive elites. Such a world would do away with production for profit – instead people would co-operate as equals to directly satisfy human needs. We recognise the importance of also combating other intertwined forms of oppression such as racism and the oppression of women by men.