2. Class Spontaneity


"The emancipation of the workers must be brought about by the workers themselves."
Declaration of the First International

"The working class by itself can only attain trade union consciousness."
Lenin, What Is To Be Done

A vast abyss of theory and practice lies between these two statements. We reject the Leninist concept which springs from the managerial strata and the intelligentsia, which seek to dragoon the workers into a new form of oppression: the workers' state.

The concept of working class spontaneity has been distorted and misunderstood for so long. We do not take the "historical" attitude that some anarchists defend: that the working class springs into revolutionary activity with no links with previous struggles and no previous agitation by revolutionary minorities. On the contrary, the work of revolutionaries over meny years in taking part in clarifying and co-ordinating struggles in the working class greatly helps the revolutionary process.

What we mean by working class spontaneity is the ability of that class to take direct action on its own behalf and to develop new forms of struggle and organisation. This can be seen in every great revolutionary upsurge where working people have thrown up committees and councils independent of "vanguards". In this country both the flying pickets and the mass pickets have been developed as weapons of struggle. More recently, 'pit commandos' emerged during the 1984-85 Miners Strike. All of this has been done independent of the Revolutionary Party (whichever one that happens to be). The activities of the working class have taken place regardless of and sometimes against the pontifications of the revolutionary elite.

"Let us put it quite bluntly: the errors commited by a truly revolutionary workers movement are historically far more fruitful and valuable than the infallibility of even the best central committees."
Rosa Luxemburg, Organisational Questions of Russian Social Democracy.

The experiences of working class life constantly lead to the development of ides and actions which question the established order. On the other hand, the ruling class seeks to reinforce and perpetuate the fragmentation of working class solidarity through its control of the media and education and through the perpetuation of racism and sexism. At the same time, different sections of the working class reach different degrees of consciousness. The working class is neither an amorphous mass nor, at the moment, a solid and united class, conscious of itself and its power.

The anarchist revolutionary organisation understands this. It also realises that only possible working class revolution is one where working people use mass action to smash the state apparatus of the ruling class. Understanding these facts, the anarchist organisation recognises that it has several tasks to perform.