To us who choose to resist the state oppression and the capitalist exploitation of workers is quite clear that the best methods to set ourselves free from our chains are those that are beyond government control. The only means that are truly effective are those who are rid of the mediation of the state institutions: direct actions. Simply said, each autonomous action people undertake for political and social goals without the mediation of a third party (politicians, parties, courts, union leader, legal experts, NGOs etc) is a direct action.
Massive direct actions have shown to be most successful during the course of history, especially such actions as mass demonstrations, general strikes, occupations of working places and of state institutions, blocking big roads etc. Individual direct actions or actions of smaller groups of people are not as effective in resisting the authorities, but can often cause a strong symbolic effect which might serve as a trigger for future massive organized actions. For example, by attacking properties (banks, parliaments, institutions, corporations, offices of fascist parties etc) not only do we cause material damage to the big bosses, but more importantly, we also publicly express our revolt against those oppressive institutions and thus inspire many others who share the sentiment to organize as well.
Direct action means opposing to the idea that we are powerless to change the conditions that make us miserable. It means acknowledging the fact that no one from above won’t solve our problems and that we must fight for each change by ourselves. The representatives who promise to fight in our name not only do not care about our problems, but also they profit from our miserable conditions of living.
That is why we know that if we want to start struggling for a total liberation from the chains of the state and of our bosses, the last place we will go to is an NGO. We know that those institutional instruments the system offers us as means to protect our rights and make our lives better will only leave us stuck in the institutional labyrinths and empty-handed. Of course, that doesn’t mean that in various specific occasions we shouldn’t use the loopholes and the contradictions of the legal system in order to defend ourselves from any legal attacks. (As anarchists, we should be prepared for the possibility of having many problems with the law and of enduring long mental pressures in the courts and prisons as a way to break our spirit.) But neither the law, nor any other institutional “remedy” the state is offering us can be our main means of struggle against the state oppression and against our exploiters at work. We should remember that the law that (we think) is protecting us today, can be withdrawn over night if the elites find it too menacing to their privileged position. And most importantly, we shouldn’t forget that the laws are written by our rulers and therefore they only serve to protect them from us.
The NGOs, however, will continue to show up in every organized dissent and persuade us to join the institutional struggle. All of us who want to see some real effect from any struggle are obliged to reject their influence and to count only on our own power. The moment when an organized group will become such a threat to the government, that the NGOs – those worshipers of the law – will retreat from that group at their own initiative, that’s when we will know that we’re doing it right. An effective struggle is the one that is capable to shake the foundations of the oppressive system, and thus force the authorities to comply with people’s demands. An effective struggle is the one that makes the government to be afraid of its people, instead of the other way around. This cannot be achieved by petitions or lobbying.
Well then, what should we do? We should organize at work, every time we think the working conditions are no good. If our boss is cutting our wages, we should stop the work of the entire company until the boss, fearing for his profits, complies with our demands. If they want to take away our social benefits, we should organize in our community and show them that it won’t pass. If the state is adopting new and more repressive laws for the workers, we should organize a general strike and block the economy that is slowly killing us. A building built on bad foundations can’t be fixed with a new façade – it must be demolished so that a new and a better one can be built in its place.
In the end, direct action is more than just a method of defending our rights and improvement of our life. Direct action – as was put by the anarcho-syndicalist Rudolf Rocker – is a “school of socialism”, or a way to prepare ourselves for the free society we all strive for. Direct action gives us control over our own struggle, gives us experience and shows us how to learn from our mistakes; it helps us build a culture of resistance and solidarity, and – connecting us with so many others who are in the same shit – gives us back our humanity which was taken from us by the industrial society. And as we control our struggle, we will slowly learn to control our own life, and the more we approach freedom, the more will grow our power to change the world.