Social revolution: the problem of organisation (and the organisation of problems) - Charlie Bloggs

Possibly an internal document which was produced around the time discussions were ongoing about a merger between the Social Revolution and Solidarity libertarian socialist groups.

Submitted by Steven. on October 26, 2015

1. What is a ‘socialist organisation, a ‘revolutionary group’, a ‘communist tendency’, when we come down to it?

Just a number of people with the same political views. A shared outlook on the world, expressed in a ‘platform’ of ideas, written or unwritten. A tiny number of individuals who’d like to take part with millions of others in the building of a new society to replace the glittering ‘super-‘rational’ chaos of contemporary capitalism.

2. Unlike the Social Democrats or Leninists, we have confidence in people’s capacity to develop in themselves and generate in others the consciousness that will ultimately lead to our freeing ourselves by our own collective activity from the various synthetic chains which bind us, without any assistance from would-be benefactors, the ‘professional revolutionaries’, ‘revolutionary leaders’ drawn from the ‘professional’ intelligentsia.


3. Not being – or wishing to be leaders, we regard ourselves as ‘catalysts’, our function that of spreading ideas of the free communist society, not that of attempting to seize power on our own account, whether by conspiracy, civil war or even the electoral carnival. ‘The emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself.’ Ultimately it is our class as a whole that decides the fate of the issues we perennially discuss – not us.

4. It is our view that the working class can – and will – create all the organisations needed for the socialist transformation of society in the process of its own struggles to do so, resulting from its conditions of life and its growing consciousness as a class for – rather than in – itself. Without losing ourselves in the confusionist cul-de sac of organisational fetischism, we suggest that well-coordinated networks of what are known historically as ‘workers councils’, ‘soviets’ or ‘councils of action’, councils of delegates mandated for specific tasks in workplaces, regions, industries etc – non-heirarchical, democratic, involving voluntary participation – will in the beginnings, means and ends of intensifying class struggle nationally and internationally, the basic organs of any post-revolutionary society in its development of communism.


5. We say this on the basis of accumulated historical evidence, having noted how on innumerable o occasions large numbers of workers have fought their own battles against their exploiters. We note also how, in many ‘revolutionary situations’, the ‘revolutionaries’ seem to have been part of the problem, not part of the solution, […….] how the workers councils of the past have been destroyed by the bureaucratic organisational forms of Trade Unions, and political parties, even those styling themselves ‘Socialist’ and ‘Communist’. No matter what organs exist to ensure that the continuity of the revolutionary process remains unbroken, the conscious self-management of each ultimately becomes a condition for the conscious self-management of all.

6. The triumph of socialism is ultimately dependent on the consciousness of the working class rather than any specific organisational form. It is when we forget this that we become obsessed with organisation itself, losing sight of what it is for. It is a means to an end. Just that. The only end that any ‘organisation’ of socialists should wish for is its dissolution into the period, noting with dismay the more or less successful recuperation of what seemed to be quite promising – although fragmented – movements – squatting, ‘sexual liberation’, ‘workers control’, ‘community politics’, together with numerous other ‘rank and file activities’, noting the seeming apathy and the continued passivity of our class in the face of all the gyrations of ‘decadent’ capitalism, where are we left, if not in a kind of limbo? The current frenetic debates on ‘organisation’ – for what? – between assorted little groups, each denouncing the others as ‘sectarian’, ‘monolithic! etc are the living proof of this.


8. Looking around we can see that most organisations that libertarian communists create are, like those of the Leninists we mercilessly criticise, mini-political parties. This is so in practice, if not in theory. Impatient, we fall into the same incestuous practices of unnecessary and premature centralisation, justifying our existence in selling papers to one another, haranguing one another at meetings on the sidelines of life. Unconsciously, our pasts remain with us. We are still party-builders of a sort. The last shreds of false consciousness, the quantitative rationales that we ‘council’ communists’ have inherited from our pasts in party politics’ lead to the re-creation of unnecessary formalism, unnecessary paperwork, and other latent bureaucratic trappings in recreated false collectives whose members come to devote most of their time to what become alienated, routine tasks – ‘just keeping the organisation going’.

9. ‘Revolutionary organisation’, this point has nothing to do with organising a revolution. Even if it did, that’s not just up to us, as all that the phrase can mean now is the ways in which we individuals – get together to discuss, clarify, develop our our ideas, try to spread them around as wide as possible, given our limited energy, resources. We should not ashamed of doing this because when we want to.


10. To me ‘regroupment’ – how ‘principled’ – just ain’t on. ‘Del ment’ and a coming together is.

experience something more than ‘self-managed boredom’, a network in which groups of socialist friends swop experiences, ideas and from which specific projects emerge. (rather than with ideas or relationships it is with projects that a need for organisation appears, in earnest, it seems to me. Organisation with an immediate purpose, consequently with no need to justify itself). The biggest problem that we face is that there are so few of us. Scattered groups here and there […] to be aware of each others’ existence and in contact with each other. And of contact and ongoing dialogue leads to inertia and isolation. The ludicrous attempts to create formal centralised organisations with enormous ‘platforms’ and a multitude of ‘lines’ on this and that lead to the same kind of failure to do what is intended – to bring libertarian communists together – by strangling the babes of initiative and individual at birth.

11. Our movement today needs unification, but not on that basis! What libertarian socialist movement that exists should try to foreshadow that which it hopes to create. It should take the form of a ‘coordinating network of ‘councils’ in miniature, social network as much as anything else, flexible and claiming as its raison d’etre the desire for a meaningful social life, the only real basis which any movement becomes and remains meaningful for its participants.