Issue 2 of libertarian/council communist journal, Subversion. From June 1990.
PDF courtesy of the comrades at Sparrows Nest Archive, Nottingham.
Down with Poll Tax, Down with all taxes!
Libertarian/council communist group Subversion on the anti-poll tax struggle.
The Poll Tax may be unfair, even on capitalist terms, but that is not the reason we oppose it. We oppose it for the same reason we oppose increases in rent, mortgages and electricity, etc. We oppose it because it is an increase in our cost of living and an attack on our living standards.
We support street organisation of workers resisting the tax, but we think to be successful this struggle must not be confined there, but needs to extend into the workplace - which is where we are at our strongest.
One way is to whack in large pay demands to take account of the Poll Tax bills. But many of us who are pensioners, unemployed, etc. don't have that option.
If a widespread struggle gets underway, based on workplace and localities, it should include social demands like higher pensions and dole, as well as common wage demands. A good example of this was in Poland a couple of years ago, when striking workers included in their demands raises for some of the sections of the working class who can't easily strike, such as healthworkers.
In the present climate that kind of extension of the strugle is difficult, but it needs to be done.
BEWARE CON (OR LAB, OR LIB DEM) TRICKS
The anti-Poll Tax movement needs to be firmly based on the 'can't pay - won't pay - won't implement' approach. It should not be sidetracked into support for one or other of the supposedly fairer systems of taxation being hawked around by the various political parties.
Any government, whether reformed Tory, Labour, Liberal Democrat or whatever would be forced to try and make us pay for the economic crisis. Their methods of doing that might vary slightly, but that's all. Our job is to resist all of these attacks - not get involved in their debates about the best ways of making us pay.
Class struggle and revolution
Subversion on the relationship between strikes and struggle today, and social revolution tomorrow.
Subversion stands for the creation of a world without states, classes, money and wages, where production will be undertaken for need not profit but to directly satisfy all human needs.
Some people describe this as "utopian". In one sense this is true: such a society does not exist anywhere, and never has. But we reject this "utopian" label if it implies that our goal has no connection with present-day reality.
The question of how to connect the day-to-day struggles we engage in now with the future society we desire has long been a subject of controversy among political groups.
Some organisations engage in the class struggle in order to recruit members to their party, with the aim of eventually becoming strong enough to seize power. We oppose such groups. We do not set ourselves up as generals, directing the rest of the working class into battle. A genuine and successful revolution can only be carried out by vast masses of working people consciously organising and leading themselves.
Besides, in the unlikely event that such groups did succeed in seizing power, the likely outcome would be in a so-called "worker's state" (with them in power), in which we would find ourselves working for "socialist" bosses, being paid "socialist" wages, and so on. If they share our future goal at all - and in most cases they don't - it is only as a distant mirage which continually recedes in the face of endless "transitional periods".
CONVERTS FOR SOCIALISM
Other organisations, who, we acknowledge, do share the same aim as us, and who do not see themselves as saviours of the working class, nevertheless treat this vision of the future society as some kind of philosophical ideal. They seek to "convert" individual members of the working class until eventually there are enough "believers" to turn this ideal into reality.
When members of such organisations engage in the class struggle, it is their identity as individual members of the working class, rather than as a revolutionaries, which prevails. They regard the present day class struggle as necessarily limited and defensive, in no way connected to the future revolutionary attack on capitalism. Thus they end up actively defending organisations such as the trade unions whose very purpose is to contain the class struggle within the terms set by capitalism
BREAKING WITH NORMALITY
By contrast the starting point of our approach to the class struggle is the view that the seeds of the future struggle for communism are contained within the working class's struggles of today.
The types of working class resistance to the attacks of capitalism we support, like strikes, riots, organising against the Poll Tax, and so on, all interrupt the routine of capital ist "normality". In overcoming the practical problems which crop up in the course of these actions, those working class people actively involved find themselves having to develop their own collective solidarity, imagination, initiative and organisation. The development of these powers - all stifled by capitalism - is essential for the working class if it is to transform society.
By changing people's immediate material conditions, collective struggle also contains the potential to alter people's perceptions of the society around them, and place in a new perspective the limited goals they originally set themselves. All of these things can be observed, to varying degrees, wherever working class people take action together to fight back against the miseries heaped on them by capitalism.
The wider the struggle, The greater the potential for the development of new forms of organisation directly controlled by those involved in the struggle, and the greater the potential for the development of radical ideas not confined merely to tinkering with society as it is but with the ambition of completely transforming it.
A CLASSLESS SOCIETY
Our approach is thus materialist: it is based on the working class's struggle in pursuit of its material interests, and recognises that the source of revolutionary ideas and the means to turn these ideas into reality is the working classes' active engagement in the class struggle. This is the seed that will flower into the classless society, a society where all humanity is at last in control of its own destiny, can fulfil its desires and can achieve its true potential.