The road to socialism (a neo-councilist view) - Jim Davis

A 1984 piece about the road to socialism from a neo-councilist point of view by Jim Davis. It includes only a few recent corrections and edits by the author.

Throughout history, we can see the rise and fall of numerous class-based societies. As society advances out of the depths of hunter-gather communalism to the present system of neo-liberal & crony capitalism, social forces within society continually change. New classes arise to overthrow and abolishes the older ruling classes; one tribe invades and conquers the lands of another tribe, settings itself up as a new ruling class. Yet we must remember that no type of class-based society has ever lasted for very long before collapsing from the class struggle within, or from an invasion without. Never forget that just as the empires of history have fallen, so too will the present Empire of Capital. The only problem is that capitalism, unlike previous class societies, has produced the means to exterminate itself and everything human being with it. The real question now is: can we survive as a species with the continued rule of Capital?

There only two roads opened humanity: one leads through social revolution to socialism, and the other leads to world war and ecological devastation, maybe even human extinction. The way to extinction is clear; we do not have to do anything, as its threat is a growing part of our everyday lives. The way forward towards socialism is not so clear, but it's only because of the weight of dead ideologies of capital have made it that way. Capitalist ideology has perverted everything is touched, so that socialism in its hands becomes mere government control over the economy. This is false. Socialism is a complete break with the past, and the present, which we feel is dying. Socialism is a new way of life, and only through a socialist revolution can there any hope at all.

The goal:

Socialist society can only come into existence by the abolition of the capitalist class society in which we live, and through the construction of a classless society. The building of socialism can be seen as a series of abolitions, and constructions.

These abolitions and constructions are:

The abolition of the state and the rise to power of the councils

During the revolution the state as an instrument of class rule is abolished. As the forces of the Revolution dissolve the power of the state politically and militarily, it dismantles the institutions of state oppression that fall into its hands. It abolishes the police forces, the prisons and the court systems, and all other means of state repression. In place of state terrorism, councils of all types would spring up to bring direct democracy, and socialism into existence. All councils would operate according to the principles of socialist democracy. All delegates to the councils would be subject to immediate recall, for any reason and at any time by those who delegated them. Work in the councils would not be considered a labor in and of itself; all delegates must also engage in other productive and creative labor.

The abolition of private property through the socialization of land, workplaces, and natural resources
All private property will become social property belonging to all. This socialization is not the same as nationalization. When the nation-state is abolished (and it must be) then nationalization is impossible. Socialization means the democratic control over the economy by those who participate in its operation. Thus a particular workplace would not be owned by anyone; rather the workers who work there would operate it. Decisions on the use of social property would be made democratically in the councils that are directly involved.

The abolition of the nuclear family through the rebuilding of true community, extended families, and communes

Socialism will reconstitute a real human community, which was destroyed by the dominion of the capitalist mode of production and distribution over society. The atomization of humanity into isolated individuals will give way to unity through the commune. Society will reorganize along communal lines, both rural and urban. Freedom to form, as well as, withdraw from a commune is a fundamental right.

The abolition of sexism, racism, ageism, and homophobia by education, and socialist community pressure

No one is to suffer discrimination upon the basis of these old prejudges. Religions that promote hatred will have to change, or face gradual extinction. A society of free peoples will have no need for religions of hatred. Such religions of hate would not be forcibly suppressed; they would die on their own in a society of free peoples.

The abolition of wage labor, and of the money form through the distribution of social product upon the basis of radical needs

Members of the communes would distribute all work equally, and all would in return take from the commons those items that they need. .

The abolition of consumer society through production to meet radical needs

All products produced will be to meet the real human needs for food, shelter, clothing, creativity, etc., and not for the needs of profit. Such an economy is a planned economy, planned through a federation of councils.

The abolition of the nation-state through a world federation of regional councils

Socialism is by its very nature a world system, just as capitalism was a world system. As long as, one capitalist nation state remains the threat of war remains. Our revolution must be a world revolution, sweeping the world clean of all the injustices of the past and the present.

The abolition of all standing armies through a general arming of the people

Class society can only maintain its power through monopolizing arms, and using them against the lower classes. Thus the revolution will see a general arming of the people during the general insurrection, breaking free of the capitalist monopoly on arms, and using them to destroy class rule & its State.

Misconceptions concerning socialism:

There are many misconceptions concerning socialism and some of these are:

That socialism means nationalization

This is false. The aim of socialism is the destruction of the state and the act of nationalization strengthens the state. Socialism is the workers control over the economy, and this could not occur under a state-controlled economy. Nationalization is the basis for state capitalism once considered the highest form of capitalism. Worker self-management through the councils is the only way to real socialism. Self-management under capitalism however is nothing more than self-exploitation.

That socialism means a dictatorship

This is false. Socialism is the unleashing of pure democracy, the democracy that all of the capitalist hate. Our democracy is the stage for the presenting of ideas and actions and never for the conquest of power by some group or individual. Our democracy is the democracy of the councils with the right of recall, and limits to the time one can the spend serving on the council.

That socialism means equality in poverty

This is false. Poverty is a symptom of class society and socialism is a classless society. We can only speak of poverty, when one compares the wealth of one class with that of another. If a social product is distributed upon the basis of radical needs, and the needs of life are being satisfied, then one cannot in any way call that poverty. Poverty exists because one class seizes, by its control over the means of production, the wealth generated by the working classes. Socialist equality is not an absolute equality; rather it is the equality of satisfied needs. We recognize that needs differ from individual to individual.

That socialism means radical atheism

This is false. One can be religious and still be a socialist (as more and more people are realizing everyday). The tradition of radical atheist amongst revolutionaries is an unfortunate holdover from the capitalist ideological struggle against feudalism. Since the feudal system based itself upon the divine order and was supported by the church. The ascending capitalist class had to undermine the power of religion to undermine the power of the feudal aristocracy. The capitalist intellectuals were atheistic. But they all agreed that some religion was necessary to control the masses. Unfortunately, modern revolutionaries in their search for guidance often choose the capitalist model for revolution. To them the social revolution is the French Revolution of 1789-94 with only a minor change in the cast. These would-be revolutionaries forget that our struggle is different from those before us. Capitalism does not rule by divine right, except in the imaginations of fundamentalists who wants to return to the theocratic dark ages, it rules through the force of its ideology, and appeals to “human nature.“ Radical atheism is of no use in dispelling capitalist ideology; in fact it actually supports capitalism. Our task is to combat capitalist ideology and not the religious heritage of the people.

Paths that will not lead to socialism

There's only one road to socialism, and that road is the road of revolution. And not just an ordinary revolution; this revolution will not just replaced the old ruling class with another. It is to abolish the very notion of a ruling class and a ruled class. This revolution will be a democratic revolution created by equals, through the rise to power of the councils. However, there are those who claim to be socialist who advocates different paths. These paths, through the test of time and practice, always have resulted in the continuation of class rule. Even worse, some have resulted in the formation of a new type of class rule: state capitalism.

These are the false paths to socialism

The path of seeking socialism through elections is a false path. In the U.S. it is impossible for third party successfully challenge the two main capitalist parties, because of the winner takes all nature of its political system. And then there's the real likelihood, if by some chance they would succeed in winning a national election, it would results in a military coup. A coup the U.S. military has been in preparation for decades. By taking the path of electionalism one would have neglected to prepare for Civil War. Facing up to the realities of U.S. military is a major prerequisite to undertaking the path toward social revolution.

The path of armed struggle now is a false path. It is an elitist concept, and it is utterly foolhardy at the present time. It is elitist, because the armed group substitute itself for the oppressed class as a whole. This is very dangerous as this group, if it is successful by some accident of history, will install itself as a new ruling class over the masses (who were reduced to passive spectators). Revolution is not guerrilla war. Rather it is the seizure of power by a class when the old ruling class is too paralyzed to resist. Civil War can occur, but usually months after the initial seizure of power from bases outside of the region.

That is why the socialist revolution must be a worldwide revolution, to prevent civil war from destroying it.
The path of third-worldism is a false path. It is a totally failed theory which has consistently failed the test of practice. It is a theory that the anti-capitalist revolution breaks out first on the weakest link of world imperialism, the former colonial world. Through the successful struggles of those nations for national liberation the capitalist system is weakened, thereby causing revolution to break out in the imperialist homelands. This ever occurred, as struggles for national liberation were never anti-capitalist. The results of the struggles were merely to change the faces of the exploiting class of these nations. After decades of such revolutions not one of them has ever-even came close to socialism. And they never will until the revolution breaks out the strongest link i.e. the USA, Europe, China or Russia. So cheerleading for national liberation struggles will not in any way bring about the revolution at home, where it would count the most.

The path of pacifism is a false path. The revolutionary class does not give up the right to use violence especially when the ruling class shows no qualms about using it against the working class. When faced with governments which have the ability to wipe off the face of the earth all life, and has used this ability before. It would be stupid to renounce the use of violence. Revolutionary violence is a form of self-defense.

The path of revolutionary unionism is a false path. Unions are now fully integrated within the capitalist social order. Some would-be revolutionaries advocated that we should try to take over the unions to make them revolutionary. This is impossible as the union is the capitalists system method of labor control. Unions cannot be revolutionary for revolution is totally beyond its function, and purpose.

The Tasks at hand:

During the course of many years of struggle between the oppressed and their oppressors, there arises individuals who have more than just an instinctive understanding of the events unfolding and of the directions those events might lead. And in the process they form revolutionary groups to aid in the generalization of the social revolution.

The revolutionary group is not a political party based upon a fossilized ideology. By this I mean, the revolutionary group is not one of those organizations, which have certain ideological interests to advance at the expense of other similar organizations. The movement is not the goal; the movement is only a means towards the goal. The social revolution is a revolution made by human agents; it is a movement of passionate human beings who want to create a new world, because they wish to live in it. This new world they envision is ever changing as the situation may deem necessary and must never be restricted by the weight of present views. The revolutionary group must be open to all new scientific ideas and technologies.

The revolutionary group is not a group made up of professional leaders. This revolution, if it is to be called a social revolution at all, is to be a self-organized revolution, organized by the oppressed themselves. It has no need for professional leaderships. For the interests of the leaders are often not the interests of the people they lead. To paraphrase Eugene Debs, if one leader can lead you into the new world, they could have just as well as brought you into slavery. The oppressed must liberate themselves through a struggle against all oppression. Thus the revolutionary group is not a leadership group nor does it aspire to become one.

The revolutionary group is not a mass organization, though it can exist within other progressive mass organizations. It does not exist to recruit as many members as possible, rather it exists to provide the necessary reflection upon the struggles of the oppressed and to aid in the generalization of the struggle. So the revolutionary group needs only those individuals who are able to participate in its work as equals and as are really necessary to the tasks at hand.

The revolutionary group does not issue a call for revolt to a certain class, to a certain oppressed group, at a certain time or to a certain land. For no one can ever really call a revolution into being, except to utter failure. Revolutions are spontaneous events arising naturally out of conflicts spawned by oppression and cannot be artificially called into existence. While revolutionary groups never issue a call for immediate revolt, they always advocate the necessity of a socialist revolution against capitalism to abolish the oppression generated by capitalist class society.

The revolutionary group is a group of oppression conscious individuals who theorize, analyze, and distribute information concerning the various struggles of the oppressed. The revolutionary group is to act a communication center in the exchange of information between the various actions of the oppressed and other revolutionary groups. They would provide information useful to the oppressed in their day-to-day struggles and not just to other revolutionaries. Most of all, the revolutionary group is a temporary project as it dissolves itself as a group when and wherever the councils have risen to power. Thus they serve the growth of the democratic revolutionary process, but never control’s it. As ever the liberation of the oppressed must be done by the oppressed themselves!

Now the major task of the groups of revolutionaries is to win the battle for consciousness. This means we must bring about the conditions that would enable the oppressed groups to become conscious of their oppression as unnecessary and then to empower them to struggle against it. Fundamentally, this is a task of education aimed at the individual so that they can begin to see the world as it is; to dispel the illusions of capitalist ideologies from the mind of the colonized. Revolutionaries are those members of the oppressed that have awaken to the realities of oppression and therefore see it as their duty to awaken others.

Contrary to socialist tradition, the struggle against capitalism is not just a struggle of the working class. For as capitalism diversified its modes of oppression, the numbers of oppressed groups who feel alienated and aware of their alienation grows. Leading to a point of direct resistance across the entire spectrum of oppressed groups. Each group having different and conflicting interests, yet still being able to unite in the realization that in order to end their own special oppression: the abolition of the capitalist state and economic order is required. Thus each group would undertake the path towards its own liberation, in union with others, to bring about the liberation of all.

As the conditions and contradictions of everyday life provoke resistance amongst the growing numbers of the oppressed, the reality of the social revolution comes into being. This is a moment from individual to mass resistance; from riot to insurrection; from the collapse of local authority to the smashing of the state; and the rise of the councils.

This is the general outline of our struggle:

From individual anger to the wildcat strike: the wildcat is a strike, which is done outside of Union control. It is a direct response to the collaboration of the capitalists and the union bureaucracy. Outside of Union control, the wildcatters are not restrained in the choice of their tactics. It is behind these strikes and no other that the spirit of revolution resides.

From Union control to self-direction through the strike committees: no more will the workers struggle be control by outsiders or professionals of any stripe. During the wildcat strike the workers form strike committees outside of official Union control to direct the strike. These committees are in essence workers councils in embryo. The workers would elect a committee of strikers, all subject to recall, to coordinate the strike actions, to obtain support, and most importantly: to spread the strike. All actions undertaken by the committee must be ratified in the general assembly of all striking workers.

From picketing to the occupation strikes: this is the best form of the strike as it leaves the means of production safely in the hands of the workers. The workers cannot then be easily replaced, and to remove them would create a battle with the risk of sabotage. Yet the strike could fail if the strike does not spread.

From local strikes to the mass strike: the mass strike is where other workers show their support for the wildcat strikers. Workers all across their regions occupy workplaces and seize state property. This leads to confrontation with the state and the rise to power of the workers’ councils.

From confrontation to the destruction of the state: the workers councils are formed out of strike committees as well as other community organizations. A mass strike turns into an insurrection; the councils begin to assume economic and political control over the liberated regions. The councils distribute arms seized, and coordinate the destruction of state power.

Is this the end of history? No, rather it is the beginning of the building of a new life for all.

Posted By

klas batalo
Jan 3 2013 22:59


  • The social revolution is a revolution made by human agents; it is a movement of passionate human beings who want to create a new world, because they wish to live in it.

    Jim Davis

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