Common Struggle - Where We Stand (updated)

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Jun 1 2013 05:44
Common Struggle - Where We Stand (updated)

From csau.org/where-we-stand

Common Struggle is an organisation of people from a wide variety of walks of life who choose to organise together with a view to reclaiming control over the conditions of our own lives.

To this end we embrace the libertarian socialist or anarchist philosophy as the best means of achieving this goal, viewing its strong emphasis on the abolition of all forms of economic and social privilege, as well as the autocratic hierarchies and other forms of authoritarian restraint they beget, as vital to this goal.

We likewise look forward to a time when solidarity and mutual aid rather than greed, egoism and nihilistic individualism inform the way we relate to one another as individuals. We likewise look forward to a time when they form the basis for the methods and processes by which we organise production and distribution, as well as the myriad other activities of an advanced and complex industrial society such as ours.

Rather than embracing the notion that we must have oppression or we will have chaos, we work instead to expand our ability to exercise control over the conditions of our lives by engaging in any and all forms of theoretical development, agitation and practical support of any and all moves towards the successful conclusion of class struggle (as opposed to its perpetuation under conditions of social and economic injustice that characterise late capitalism).

Solidarity

As members of Common Struggle we value and practise class solidarity, and we do so as class-conscious workers. As class-conscious workers we are aware that capitalist society is divided into propertied and non-propertied classes, and that the propertied classes use their economic monopolies to force us, the non-propertied classes, to work for wages.

We are likewise aware that, in working for wages, we are deprived of control over the conditions of our work, made subject to the autocratic hierarchies that characterise capitalist relations of production, and exploited by being paid less in wages than the value created in the process of the work that we do.

We are aware then that the wage system does not function in our interests, as is also true of capitalism and the class system more generally. We struggle therefore to encourage class-consciousness amongst our class and a fundamental recognition of shared interests with a view to organising the defence of our right to control the conditions of our own lives.

The Wage System

As members of Common Struggle and as anarchists we oppose the wage system, because we remember history. When the Industrial Revolution was born, the rising capitalist class forced peasants who controlled their own means of production into the cities to work as wage slaves by enclosing the common lands and depriving them of economic independence through their servants in parliament, a class institution designed to enable class rule. This set the tone for all that followed, not least of which in terms of colonialism and imperialism, both of which established new markets and imposed capitalist relations of production by force.

Then as now, we are obliged to answer to the monopolisers of wealth for the privilege of living on the planet onto which we are born. While economic independence is the true foundation of our freedom since it means we answer to no one, and the ability to control the product of our own labour is the true foundation of our economic independence, the wage system demands we give it over to our employer — some of which returns to us as a wage. This is pure exploitation.

In addition to being exploitative the wage system subjects us to economic relationships that are purely autocratic, even totalitarian. We may choose a boss who treats his workers relatively well over one who treats them relatively badly, but at the end of the day the only difference between a chattel slave and a wage worker is that the former was owned, whereas the latter is rented, and in all likelihood owned slaves were probably treated much better than ones that are rented and then tossed aside when worn out.

The wage system has always functioned by coercion. As James Madison adroitly pointed out, the role of the state has always been and will always be “to protect the minority of the opulent from the majority.” The primary function of the state is to enable the perpetuation of the wage system and class society, as well as the myriad other forms of oppression that allow both to continue and some to prosper while others struggle and live in misery.

Intersectionality

As members of Common Struggle we oppose capitalism as the greatest, but not the only manifestation in our unhappy world of economic and social privilege. We recognise the capitalist mentality that views the worker as an object whose primary and perhaps even ultimately only value resides in our exploitability in innumerable different contexts where social and economic privilege trample on our rights.

We recognise that this mentality is in play where patriarchy employs sexist and misogynistic illogic to make women the scapegoats for the way that men allow our love of power to get the best of the power of love, just as we recognise that the same is true where white supremacy employs racism and xenophobia to make people with different skin colour scapegoats for the inability of white bigots to think for themselves or take control over the conditions of their own lives. Blaming those who have no control over the conditions of our own lives for our inability to take control over them ourselves just goes to show that the best argument against white supremacist ideology is its adherents.

We work then to develop an anarchist intersectionality that draws out commonalities between different forms of oppression by attempting to understand in practise how the mentality of the oppressor and tyrant, who sees in workers, women, the young, the old, people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, people of different sexualities and abilities as well as the flora and fauna as objects whose main value resides in their exploitability, with a view to enhancing our ability to fight back.

Our Goal

As members of Common Struggle we want to abolish capitalism, class society, the wage system, patriarchy and all other forms of social and economic privilege. In short we want a thoroughgoing revolution in all aspects of economic and social life such that we can restore some semblance of sanity, justice and order to the characteristically insane, unjust and chaotic shithole of a world in which we live.

We envision in the aftermath of capitalist oppression an international confederation of radically democratic, self-managed communities and workplaces that facilitate economic and social justice by virtue of the fact in the first instance that they provide for the ability of each to control the product of our labour. We see this happening through the introduction of workers’ control or workers’ self-management such that those who do the work also do the deciding as to the nature and condition of the work.

In pursuit of this goal, we advocate the abolition of economic monopoly, and thus the class divisions and autocratic hierarchies characteristic of capitalist relations of production.

This we envision happening through the abolition of the institution of private property. We advocate the collectivisation and socialisation of property under direct workplace and community control, the replacement of the profit motive with the human motive, and the substitution of altruism for greed. In this kind of economically democratic society, we anticipate that the guiding principle of production and distribution will be, “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”

Green Anarchism

As members of Common Struggle we are particularly devoted to the development of a sustainable economy. We regard the primary cause of the environmental crisis to which we are now subject as the anti-social, nihilistic egoism of free market capitalism — a mentality that has sought to socialise the consequences of completely unsustainable forms of production such as oil and coal mining from the beginning of the industrial revolution to the present moment, while confusing criticism with attack such that anyone daring to criticise capitalism on this basis is defamed as an enemy of freedom and a ‘watermelon’ trying to use green politics as a Trojan horse for Marxism and Soviet-style communism. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We advocate therefore the urgent dismantling of all industries based on fossil fuels and the diversion of all resources devoted to running, maintaining and subsidising such industries, particularly in the form of corporate welfare, into environmentally sound forms of energy production such as wind farming and solar power. We find the idea of concentrated solar power plants with molten salt heat storage systems such as the Gemasolar tower in Spain run under conditions of workers’ control especially groovy.

Class Struggle

As members of Common Struggle and as students both of anarchist intersectionality and green anarchism we know that the climate crisis is part of a greater programme of class war. As the billionaire Warren Buffet has pointed out, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and winning.” For our part we do not wish to start a class war; rather, we aim to end one. This we hope to achieve to the ends described above.

The methods we propose to use are simple to understand. In the first place we propose employing means consistent with our ends on the basis of our understanding of history, which suggests very strongly to us that social and economic justice movements began to lost their way when they stopped either trying or being able to retain a basic harmony between means and ends. As we see it the means we employ determine our ends, authoritarian means begetting authoritarian ends and libertarian means begetting libertarian ends. Thus wanting libertarian outcomes we employ libertarian means.

In employing libertarian means, we seek to nurture and support sites of struggle where they arise such that we can make immediate gains that improve people’s lives in the present, give them incentives to continue with social and class struggle into the future, and in addition to that function as a kind of ‘revolutionary gymnastics’ where we develop the capacity for self-activity (meaning the capacity to be responsible for our actions on the one hand, and the ability to think and act for ourselves on the other) that will form the basis of our ability to function as free individuals without the state.

Since at the end of the day the primary function of the state is to perpetuate and defend social and economic privilege and class society from the threat of economic and social justice, and this is its defining function, we do not see the state as having any role to play in the establishment of a society as free and just as it is classless and similarly bereft of other forms of privilege. We oppose all manifestations of imperialism and seek to develop international contacts and networks with a view to aiding the development of workers solidarity around the globe.

Why?

At the end of all this, the question must be asked. As members of Common Struggle we fight for freedom and the ability of all to control the conditions of our own lives because we believe freedom to be the lifeblood of our selfhood and our sense of identity. To be free is to have the ability to determine for ourselves how to live our lives, and to have that ability is to be in a position to develop all the free creative powers of our personality in self-expression such that we are able to pursue self-actualisation in peace, free of those who would impose their will on us because they can imagine no greater good and no greater way to live than through ownership.

Rather than seeking to own the world, as members of Common Struggle we seek to own the ability to control the course of our own lives, and for everyone else on the planet to own the same. Rather than seeking to be masters and mistresses of the world, as members of Common Struggle we seek to be our own masters, and for everyone else to seek the same. The only true justice exists in these conditions; our goal is not to preach these ideals to ears that already understand the justice and sense of them implicitly, but rather to help others to get in touch with their inner lover of economic and social justice while attempting the same ourselves. We aim from there to act with courage and conviction to realise them; we know that at the end of the day they’re not a big ask.