Critical Reply to Adbusters "Tactical Briefing #26" "One Simple Demand"

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Mar 9 2012 20:00
Critical Reply to Adbusters "Tactical Briefing #26" "One Simple Demand"

"One simple demand"
- Critical Reply to "Adbusters Tactical Briefing #26 - Anarchic Swarms"

it's all fair enough, and the tactical idea of "anarchic swarming" sounds
like a step forward in addition to occupying central squares. but what in
the world do you need "one simple demand"? it's fairly unlikely that this
will be fulfilled anyways, but even if: it wouldn't change the balance of
power one substantial bit.

"On the ECONOMIC FRONT we throw our movement’s weight behind one simple
demand: the implementation of a 1% Robin Hood Tax on all financial
transactions and currency trades."

and then what? capitalists would still be capitalists, wage laborers would
still be wage laborers. some part of who are now rather profiting from the
system would probably be affected by that tax, but only to fuel
competition between them, making some of those that are powerful already
more powerful, while others go down. this would in the end mainly increase
pressure on working people to work more for less money to ensure profits.

please don't make the false separation of "good capital" investing in
(material) production and "evil capital" of some seemingly separate group
of gambling financial jugglers. there is no structural difference, and
none of them can exist without the other.

capital is a social power relation, not just piles of money in the safes
of bankers and "investors". it's the fact that some own and others work to
just get by. this will not change the slightest bit if you pressure
politicians to implement this tax.

and even if you say "we are aware of these things, but we believe that
winning the struggle about one demand will strengthen the movement and
motivate people to go further", you are still at least partly mistaken.
this is because the politicians, who you choose to engage in a power game
with, are better at this game. they have access to the mass media, their
ideological explanations are in tune with the predominant (even if
distorted) picture of the world. and they are getting paid to do that job,
so they can do it full time while we still have to find ways to make our
basic living.

so even if one day they implement your proposed tax, they will have played
the game long enough for any movement to die down while waiting for the
illusion of some success on this singular front. they will have waited and
probably done their part for the movement to split, arresting and
intimidating some vital part of the radical wings while parties, ngos and
other agents of the existing order seep into the reformist parts of the

these struggles are old and even the idea of your "robin hood tax" is
nothing but a replay of the tobin tax with which attac once got big and in
the end fostered a split in the "anti-globalization movement" of the last

moreover, it is fairly unlikely that ever there will be anything like a
global tax that all the capitalist states on this planet would or could
agree on. they are by definition in constant competition against each
other and such a thing as you propose would always affect some much more
than others, so agreement on this point is almost impossible, unless maybe
if this economical order called capitalism is at the verge of collapsing
due to people's movements developing a power that is really challenging to
the system.

and, think for yourself, if we ever really reach that point, are you sure
all you would do then is to demand some stupid tax that would only help to
re-establish power for those whose power you are trying to challenge,
because it would give them some "moral" credit because now even the evil
financial investors pay their share. so be obedient an go back to work.
time for more demands is gonna come when the economy has recovered.

so if your are serious about wanting to change the world, rethink your
approach of having "one simple demand" (look what is the outcome of the
example for this approach that was cited when adbusters first made the
call to occupy wallstreet - egypt got rid of mubarak but still has the
military ruling the country). forget the idea about some global tax that
will help to bring about justice - there's no justice in capitalism, only
different models of distributing the injustice that is inherent to it.

you say you want to "tell Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy, Putin, Merkel... and
the NATO military leaders to stop the warmongering and start fighting for
peace". well if you really think you can get these people to "fight for
peace", take off your blurry glasses and start getting a clear picture of
the world.

you suggest to "rise up and start fighting for a different kind of future"
because otherwise we don't have a future. agreeable. but the future won't
be much different if it remains a future of capitalism. we will have to
change the way we work and produce substantially, and for this we'll need
to change who owns the means of production. we'll need to expropriate the
owners and return almost everything into collective, communal hands, and
produce in a self managed way. the state is not an institution that
represents the people, it's function is to keep the capitalist system
working, and it will, even if it takes millions of deaths. so what good
would the money generated by that 1% "robin hood tax" do in the hands of
the state?

you don't make an insurrection with one simple demand, you make an
insurrection because you are fed up with the way things are running,
completely fed up. and your goal is to negate the existing order and to
build something completely different.

if you really want some tax, go voting.
if you want to change the world, rise up. but demand nothing from the
rulers of the current order. by doing that, you would only strengthen
their position. rather, occupy everything, and build a new commons apart
from states, nations and capital.

the time for an uprising on a global scale has for long not been as good
as now. but by ideas like that of a global robin hood tax, the emerging
movement could be mislead into insignificance.

take the squares, the factories, organize to collectively default on debts
and to stop paying rent. block the functioning of governments and start
social self organization.

occupy everything, demand nothing.

*about the slogan "occupy everything, demand nothing":