Meaningful action for revolutionaries

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Anonymous
Jan 17 2006 12:59
Meaningful action for revolutionaries

It seems that posters on here have got a bit of a reputation for slagging off a lot of political activity. So I thought it might be a good idea for us to say what kind of things we think revolutionaries should be doing or what kind of things we are doing that we think are good. I think this site is an excellent example of the kind of things we should be doing, but I don't feel a website is enough, I think community action groups like Hackney Independent are pretty damn good as well...

smile red n black star

Solidarity wrote:
Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of the masses and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others - even by those allegedly acting on their behalf.
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Jan 17 2006 13:06
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
It seems that posters on here have got a bit of a reputation for slagging off a lot of political activity.

eek Surely not.

Sorry, mate -- if you want a reasoned response, put it in Organise. Or Thought. Some folks on here would be more comfortable with the latter, I think. wink

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Jan 17 2006 13:16

smile

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Jan 17 2006 14:30
Solidarity wrote:
Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of the masses and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others - even by those allegedly acting on their behalf.

worth printing out and pasting this to your local radical centres toilet so people can read and dwell on this while taking a dump.

Its a beautiful quote mate.

one question though, what did they mean by demystification?

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Jan 17 2006 14:33
JDMF wrote:
what did they mean by demystification?

As crypto-leftists, they were still in thrall to the cod-Marxist notion of false consciousness. roll eyes

tongue

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Jan 17 2006 14:45
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
JDMF wrote:
one question though, what did they mean by demystification?

Dictionary.com had this:

Quote:
To make less mysterious

To make what less mysterious, though? It seems fairly clear to me that, in this context, they're talking about workers coming to realise the nature of capital & their position within it, in the

Marx wrote:
man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real condition of life and his relations with his kind.

stylee.

But anyway. I'm derailing a thread about meaningful action for revolutionaries. But then perhaps making tiny, nit-picky points about textual interpretation is one such activity. Here's hoping, anyway. wink

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Jan 17 2006 14:46
Jack wrote:
the button wrote:
crypto-leftists

I dunno if crypto is the right term - they certainly didn't reject being part of the left.

Sorry. I meant, "pseudo". tongue

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Jan 17 2006 15:09

so no one knows basically? Or are you just deliberately giving really vague and meaningless answers tongue

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Jan 17 2006 15:10
revol68 wrote:
And i'm sorry but I still stand by the role of the revolutionary to aid in the process of demystification.

Vanguardist! angry

No, but seriously though -- so do I, kind of, but it really does depend on what you mean by "aid."

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Jan 17 2006 15:51

so demystification means that as revolutionaries we provide an explanation on whats up?

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Jan 17 2006 16:11

I'd prefer to say that as revolutionaries, we facilitate the process by which people work things out for themselves.

But then we all know that Jack's a trot in all but name, and he'll be a Labour councillor by the time he's 35. tongue

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Jan 17 2006 16:16
Jack wrote:
Yea, Trot's HATE activism and National Liberation Struggles.

tongue

They're quite keen on being the vanguard of the working class though, providing ideological & political leadership. tongue

dara
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Jan 17 2006 16:40

actually i kinda think that quote covered it. just plain lovely.

i wouldn't be too keen on 'demystification', it smacks of the idea of ideology being 'false consciousness' and that if people aren't radical then they're in 'false consciousness'. so our job is to destroy this false consciousness with a few well-timed marx quotes and force them to face reality.. or something neutral

sure alienation at work, school, wherever is pretty clear, people are conscious that stuff sucks, they just usually don't see the potential for doing something about it. so we take our revenge in petty, individualist ways like skipping off school, stealing from work, wearing patches etc. etc. usually we end up internalising the authoritarian structures we hate to a certain extent and make ourselves more miserable by allowing frustration and alienation to damage our relationships with other people.

golly, what a miserable post...

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Jan 17 2006 16:51
dara wrote:
i wouldn't be too keen on 'demystification', it smacks of the idea of ideology being 'false consciousness' and that if people aren't radical then they're in 'false consciousness'. so our job is to destroy this false consciousness with a few well-timed marx quotes and force them to face reality.. or something neutral

8)

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Jan 17 2006 17:04

Hi

Quote:
and he'll be a Labour councillor by the time he's 35

He'd better way give his old comrades good jobs on cushy committees, oh yes. That would be a meaningful action, and no mistake.

The relationship between demystification and autonomy is important. The process of the working class discovering the truth about itself and the world around it isn’t so much the assertion of one true objective interpretation of reality, but the act of developing itself as an independent, creative force rather than restricting itself to a set of reactions against capitalism.

Hence the beauty of the Solidarity quote, but what does this mean in terms of concrete activity? Dunno. Does the IWCA’s appeal to the bourgeoisie to redirect “regeneration” funds back towards working class communities increase our autonomy or reduce it? Experiment and imagination are key, and I hope time will show them to be correct, although I can’t say I’m sure it will.

Love

LR

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Jan 17 2006 17:56

I prefer my re-write which went:

Quote:
Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of the working class and whatever assists in our demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the working class, our apathy, our cynicism, our differentiation through hierarchy, our alienation, our reliance on others to do things for us and the degree to which we can therefore be manipulated by others - even by those allegedly acting on our behalf.

Demystification is a poor word... I think basically it could be termed "class consciousness". TBH it could probably be left out since what it refers to is probably covered in the others.

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Jan 17 2006 17:57
Lazy Riser wrote:
Hence the beauty of the Solidarity quote, but what does this mean in terms of concrete activity? Dunno. Does the IWCA’s appeal to the bourgeoisie to redirect “regeneration” funds back towards working class communities increase our autonomy or reduce it?

Lol what do you think? All the leftie parties call for that. It's electoral utopianism.

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Jan 17 2006 19:09

Great question. Hope that the answers are as thought out. This is more what I expected libcom to be about, and why I keep popping back every few months to check for.

Solidarity wrote:
Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of the masses and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others - even by those allegedly acting on their behalf.

(Reminds me of the drunken conversations I tried to initiate on Hogmanay with the poor bastards at the party I was at. I didn't get any "meaningful action" then, either ... )

There are so many issues that we could/should be active around. I think looking at the options for campaigns through a filter such as the quote above is useful. This is partly why I stopped being active in the ID card issue, but think that campaigning against dawn raids on asylum seekers is very valid. The latter makes ordinary people's blood boil. It also involves ordinary people who find themselves taking direct action because their friends are under threat of deportation.

I like the idea of a fish campaign in Scotland as it covers issues of authoritarian, out of touch, centralised government, what makes a strong community, sustainability, and how we can shape the world around our needs, not those of the ruling class. I remain confident that a direct action campaign of stopping the fish lorries and/or oil leaving Scotland until a fair solution to the North Sea fish stock would be hugely popular and supported, as long as, obviously, it was done side by side with those in the communities fucked over by the current fishing policies.

I also think that things that you lot would probably dismiss as "hippy shit" such as free shops and food coops are valid under this definition, especially as your ability to participate in activity is reliant on you having your basic needs met. (As well as it appealing because of dual power and that it has direct relevance to folks lives rather than some distant utopia)

I think good action is have shortterm and longterm objectives. For instance a tenants association is about winning better living conditions in the shortterm. This promotes confidence, initiative and participation. It also opens up longterm goals of self organised communities and "demystifies" by practically illustrating both the current power structures (to some extent, anyway) and what is possible to have instead.

I do think there is a place for antiwar work. This directly effects so many working class families who lose their loved ones into the war machine, as well as the sheer blatancy of the manipulation of the Iraq war demystifying power/propoganda. However I also feel that antiwar activity brings up for me, the limitations of that quote. I don't participate in trying to end the war just because I think it is meaningful in bringing about the revolution, but also because I feel a responsibility to those being murdered in Iraq (and I include ally squaddies in that, as i think having an economic gun to your back makes many of them effectively conscripts) but I'm sure a lot of you will dismiss it.

Obviously a great example of meaningful activity is that cafe their squatting in hackney.

You may also shoot me down, but I feel the feminist activity I do also falls within that remit. Shout "cross class alliances" as much as you like, much feminist action of the last 30 years, such as feminist health collectives, battered women shelters and consciousness raising groups explicitly "increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of the s/masses/women/ and whatever assists in their demystification." and the increase in these aspects of women, as a section within the working class, increases the overall tendancies in the working class as a whole.

(That bloody "edit" button is too easy to press. I'm on my, what, third edit now? I know that I'm going to get ripped to shreds over something I've said, and the more I write, the more chance that 99% of what I've written will get ignored in favour of focusing on some detail, much like this thread so easily got derailed into defining demistifying and playing linguistic pally games with each other)

I used to think local history stuff was important at raising confidence, and I'm less sure now, although it has proved a useful hook to get ordinary folk into our shop. Would be interested to hear of anyone who used it to good effect.

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Jan 17 2006 19:22
ginger wrote:
You may also shoot me down, but I feel the feminist activity I do also falls within that remit. Shout cross class alliances as much as you like, much feminist action of the last 30 years, such as feminist health collectives, battered women shelters and consciousness raising groups explicitly "increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of the s/masses/women/ and whatever assists in their demystification." and the increase in these aspects of women, as a section within the working class, increases the overall tendancies in the working class as a whole.

I can't see anyone slagging you off for that confused

From my personal pov, the only stuff I can be arsed to get involved in is stuff that directly affects me. Atm this is stuff at work around shifts, conditions, hours, pay etc.

I think learning and helping others to learn about w/c history and ongoing w/c struggles is also very useful, which is what I do with libcom. It doesn't directly affect me, but it's fun and I like looking at the site traffic stats rocket 8)

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Jan 17 2006 19:40

Another thing I think we as revolutionaries should be doing is learning/doing useful skills. This kinda feeds into the solidarity quote (does anything not?) but I think is also a practical point.

(1) Come mass social unrest which, presumably, we are all working towards / hoping for it will be extinguished without basic needs such as food, water, shelter and healthcare being included. (I might be biased as I spend most of my time learning medical skills in one form or another, so of course I want to see it as important...) And - get your tinfoil hat pictures at the ready - if/when the oil runs out / bird flu hits / capitalism falls into crisis without it being precipitated by mass retaking of power then we're screwed if we don't know how to look after ourselves and our comrades.

(2) I do not see us as seperate from "the masses" (and I assume you lot don't either, but that its just the offputting rhetoric), just that we're the ones that through chance have been made politically awakened. And I see a massive reskilling of "the masses" as a vital component of "the revolution" as at the moment huge numbers of us are only trained in consumerism (and believe me, that is a genuine specialist skill that far too many of my friends and family have far too many brain cells wired around. sad ) or crap like call centre work. We need to not just be able to provide for ourselves once we no longer can rely on capitalism to restock the supermarket shelves with food resources nicked from other countries, but we also need skills for self management, such as collective decision making.

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Jan 18 2006 16:51

It's not about fabricating struggles for the sake of it, nor is it about jumping on the bandwagon of trendy struggles and telling people what they should be thinking.

It is about acting in the interests of common sense in our roles as employees, residents etc (NOT as politicos) alongside others in the same role within the class and encouraging the libertarian communist tendency within the working class.

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Jan 18 2006 17:02

Hi ginger

You are right. That's why I keep on banging on about Industrial Regen.

Love

LR

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Jan 19 2006 13:54

I always though 'mystification' referred to religious mumbo-jumbo and the like the ruling class endorses to help keep the proles in line. So 'demystification' would be debunking this tosh.

I think the ICC still use the term 'mystification' so perhaps they could give us the definitive answer, preferably backed up by quotes from Bilan and Marx.

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Jan 19 2006 18:58
ginger wrote:
Another thing I think we as revolutionaries should be doing is learning/doing useful skills. This kinda feeds into the solidarity quote (does anything not?) but I think is also a practical point.

TBH I think that goes very much against the message.

Like you I hate "the masses" talk, I think that was symptomatic of the time, so I'll quote from my re-write above:

Quote:
Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the working class, our apathy, our cynicism, our differentiation through hierarchy, our alienation, our reliance on others to do things for us

I certainly don't see my role as being to learn practical skills, along with other revolutionaries, so we can "save the world" at some point.

At the minute even that would be a complete waste of time. I think that if the workers' movement was stronger - and I here I mean really strong - then yeah I think that it'd be worth collectively coming up with plans for re-organising production under workers' control, and coming up with a self-education strategy for it (like the IWW started to do in the early 20th C US). But things like the mayday "plumbing workshops" just play up the whole activist saviour elite thing, IMO.

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Jan 19 2006 19:38
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
A lot of people already have practical skills, a strong workers movement would have to encompass those people.

Well yeah but upon seizing the means of production all the people who do useless jobs can't just leave the small amount of productive labour to those who do it now

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Jan 19 2006 20:13
John. wrote:
I certainly don't see my role as being to learn practical skills, along with other revolutionaries, so we can "save the world" at some point.

I agree. That wasn't my point at all. It was that those skills need knowing by everyone; those of us that currently identify as revolutionaries, and the rest of the working class.

What exactly will be your role, come the day? I think it is something we should consider - though not to fetishise. I love, as much as the next person, pub discussions about how we're going to make the world better, and what this world will look like, and I'm fully aware that this is no more realistic than the discussion on the adjacent table about how they'd like to have sex with Jordan. Its a comfort, and kind of fun, and makes a nice change from more practical, immediate concerns. Its therapy.

However, I do think there is a problem where so many of "us" reject careerism, reject learning a trade, reject consumerism etc, and become very good at things that are not going to be so useful when capitalism is on its knees and requires just one more push to fall over eg growing food, constructing stuff, fixing each other, and perhaps even shooting a gun.

Unfortunately I don't think that being able to discuss whether you can demystify the agency of a commodity is going to destroy the state. wink

John. wrote:
At the minute even that would be a complete waste of time. I think that if the workers' movement was stronger - and I here I mean really strong - then yeah I think that it'd be worth collectively coming up with plans for re-organising production under workers' control, and coming up with a self-education strategy for it (like the IWW started to do in the early 20th C US). But things like the mayday "plumbing workshops" just play up the whole activist saviour elite thing, IMO.

Do you think that this mayday plumbing workshop you refer to was done because the activists involved thought they were going to single handedly rebuild society? I don't know - I've never heard of it before, didn't see how it was advertised and certainly wasn't there for it. In my experience of practical skill sharing sessions - mostly in women only environments but also at (you're gonna love this one wink ) earth first! summer gatherings this was about empowering those of us there that we could do stuff we'd previously had drilled into us that were beyond our capability (and therefore we needed a man to be around just in case we needed a plug rewiring...). I've run women only computer hardware workshops, most memorably years age for some single mums in birmingham, and the confidence these women had at the end was beautiful.

Demystification - I think that also should mean demystifying our own capabilities and strengths. That whole Marx thing of "the process of revolution turns the working class into a class capable of ruling" which I think means also the confidence that you really do have all these skills inside yourself, and its not that middle class people are born with the ability to be managers, or ruling class people to be politicians or whatever and that therefore we need them to tell us what to do because we can't figure it out for ourselves.

We really get that with our tenants association (sorry for continually bringing it up, but its one of my 3 big focuses at the moment) that there;s this expectation that the men or the more middle class sounding people will take on the roles and its a real fight to get the working class women to agree that they won't stand in the kitchen making the tea and washing up, but really win design the leaflet, or even add content to the website - and thats about giving them those skills, apprenticing so people can gently see its not actually that difficult and that they're not out there on their own, and a supportive environment that nobody does a perfect job, and whats perfect anyway, and actually that looks great.

[Did anyone else notice I included both a semi colon AND a marx quote in the same post. 8) ]

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Jan 19 2006 20:38
ginger wrote:
[Did anyone else notice I included both a semi colon AND a marx quote in the same post. 8) ]

"If you really want to hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be a homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts. But do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites, standing for absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college."

- Kurt Vonnegut

wink

I'll respond to that other stuff tomorrow... I gotta proof-read my girl's essay now

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Jan 24 2006 15:51

does that mean that transvestite hermaphrodites have all been to college?

i'm confused...

eek

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Jan 27 2006 23:36

disregard

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Jan 28 2006 04:58
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
By the time we overthrow capitalism robots will probably be doing all productive labour so we can all have lives of leisure...

grin

As they work for nothing other than the bare minimum workers are the true proletarians so I don't think we should continue to exploit them. I also have a feeling that the bourgoisie wil use them to wipe us out before we ever get our revolution. Even if they don't haven't you seen The Terminator? Of course as an allegory of working class revolution T1 and T2 are pretty good, withinnminutes of gaining consciousness the proletariat is rejecting and wiping out the bourgeoisie.

Great post Ginger, pleasure to read, although I think the semicolon thing is a bit elitist to be honest smile