Reaganism isn’t the problem – capitalism is!

Text from a leaflet that was distributed at an anti-Reagan rally in New York in March 1982 by the Libertarian Workers Group.

In our magazine’s first introduction, “For Openers,” we laid out our perspectives and goals:


“What you have in your hands is a discussion journal, a forum for ideas and analysis, from a libertarian syndicalist socialist point of view. The basic framework is provided by the ideas of direct action and anti-statism, anti-parliamentarianism and anti-partyism, international worker solidarity and revolutionary unionism, and the ideal of a society run collectively by working people through face-to-face democracy, free of top-down control.”

As to the journal’s rationale, here is a quote from a letter that was sent out, inviting participation in this project:


“To have an effective anarcho-syndicalist movement, we need something more than isolated activists and groups. Libertarian ideas are likely to have more influence on the real world if numbers of people are pulling in the same direction. … Discussion has to be a shared activity. Because we learn from each other’s arguments and experiences, raising the understanding of the movement as a whole. And we develop an approach towards the struggles of our class that is shared, with collective agreement on what needs to be done. The more who participate, the more communication and sharing of ideas take place”

The Libertarian Workers Group leaflet, “Reaganism Is Not the Problem” originally appeared in the Summer 1982 (#2) print issue of ideas & action.

Special thanks go out to Juan Conatz for transcribing the text.

Reaganism isn’t the problem – capitalism is!

The following leaflet was distributed at an anti-Reagan rally in New York in March 1982.

Clearly the policies of the Reagan administration are meant to hurt working people, to impose austerity on us for the sake of the continued functioning of the economic system. It is also clear that as workers, students and unemployed we must fight to maintain and improve our material conditions of life, whether it is “good for the economy” or not.

Where does the current economic problem come from? The problem does not come from bad leaders and bad policies, as some would tell you. They would claim that the right leaders with the right program would turn the current wave of cut-backs, lay-offs and inflation around and run the economy for the benefit of everyone, not just the rich and powerful. Sounds good at first, and it might just work for a while.

But there’s something they either don’t know or aren’t saying. You see, ultimately it doesn’t matter if it’s Reagan, Carter, Kennedy or whoever. The system of profit and accumulation called capitalism is so full of contradictions and internal flaws that it inevitably falls into crisis after crisis. At best, they can alternate between inflation and recession. Worse for us, we can wind up with both, as we have today.

This is so fundamental to the system that no politician can change it. Nor can they, in the long run, convert defense spending into spending for human needs, not as long as the system of international conflict called imperialism exists. A president or Congress may reduce war spending for a time, but as long as there are governments they will compete for world power, and they will require arms and soldiers to do so.

So of capitalism, and not Reaganism, is the problem, what then is the solution? Certainly not the bureaucratic monstrosity of the system, mistakenly called “socialism”, which exists in Eastern Europe, China , Cuba, etc. If Poland proves anything, it is that bosses are still bosses, whether they call themselves capitalist or Communist.

While as working people we need to get rid of private ownership and profit in industry, the last thing we need is to hand it over to the governments to run for us. We should instead seek to manage and run the means of production and distribution democratically and collectively, without private ownership or state managers.

We, the members of the Libertarian Workers Group*, are workers and students from all over the New York metropolitan area. We are anarchists because we have learned from our experiences in all sorts of struggles that working people must shake off all the self proclaimed “leaders” who try to direct our struggles and instead run them ourselves. To do this we need new types of organization - councils, assemblies, free unions - organizations that can serve as a model of a new society without bosses or bureaucrats, without exploitation and domination. Without that kind of movement we will be doomed to fighting one Reagan after another, without ever having gotten to the heart of the problem – the capitalist system all over the world.

Taken from ideas + action (Summer 1982)

*The Libertarian Workers Group (formed in 1978) was one of the two Workers Solidarity Alliance founding groups.

Originally posed: May 15, 2012 at ideas + action

Posted By

Juan Conatz
Jun 5 2012 08:00

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