Based on a broad conception of the working class, including all those who are divorced from social power and rely on exploitative work, state income support, or debt, we say that the liberation of the working class is the task of the working class itself. This is counterpoised to some Communists who would have a revolutionary minority or a Vanguard Party institute and/or facilitate Communism from a State institution i.e “from Above”. We want change from bellow, from autonomous class wide direct action. We do not however see that there is no role to be played by a revolutionary minority who are conscious of the systems of exploitation and the historical destiny of the Proletariat’s flight to Communism.
The last few decades has opened up new avenues for Class Struggle outside the traditional point of production and larger political battle for supremacy over the state. This is marked by the International restructuring of the working class from petty production, to mass production to the polarization of the working class from East to West along two radically different compositions. One under the traditional mass production, the other along precarious and casualized work.
According to some estimates, 60% of all workers today are in Asia where traditional mass production is predominant. Here Unions are taking the forefront of the struggle often beginning from a wave of spontaneous wildcat strikes that are broken due to their lack of centralization, coordination and experience. This can be seen most clearly in China, South Korea, Bangladesh and India. In these countries where the class conflict is so naked, where the workingman spends the vast majority of their day at work, the point of production is the heart of class struggle for which the larger political battle for a Communist society will most likely begin. However we cannot overlook the other struggles undertaken by the peasant and urban activist for self – determination. China alone experienced over 100,000 “incidents” (local uprisings and confrontations, not all of them involving blue-collar workers) in 2010. Vietnam has experienced 336 strikes in the past year, many of them wildcats. In North Africa and the Middle East, workers have played central roles in the revolutionary insurgencies in Tunisia and Egypt, and important strikes have occurred in Turkey. In these countries the Proletariat is not at great threat by forces which attempt to co-opt its struggles. The Unions are often organs of Proletarian Autonomy and self – expression.
In the West the Post World War 1 period rendered Unions useless tools for Proletarian action and self-expression. Either co-opted by the State, crushed/removed of its militancy by the Red – Scare or welded into the Communist Parties’ apparatus they destroyed Proletarian Autonomy. The passing of Liberal Welfare States, guaranteed wages and working hours under the guise of “progressivism” and “socialism” lead in large part to the disillusionment of importance of unions by the working class. Then the internal structure morphed from workplace committees to top – down bureaucracies mirroring the Capitalist state with its own congress’, presidents, paid employees, propaganda, contracts and funds. Against the Union and the Capitalist there is a common enemy: Communism. Both seek to ride it of its place in society. The objective of the Union is harmony and compromise between the Capitalist and the Worker. Let us be clear, between the Employer and the Employee, there is nothing in common. To sum: Trade union officialdom or bureaucracy is rooted in negotiating the terms of exploitation.
This is a basic critique of Unions in western society. It is under these basic premises that we reject Unions as tools for class struggle. However this does not mean we should not work within in them. But in saying so we also reject the ways in which other Communists, namely Bolshevik – Communists would work in unions. To these Communists they would want to work in Unions to weld them to their own program to burrow from within the union and radicalize it from the inside into a revolutionary organization of the party. We disagree with this formation both for its practical limitations in the modern union structure and for previous historical attempts producing anti-autonomous results. Rather we would work in Unions to promote extra – union associations that are based upon uniting the entire working class, rather than a single trade or industry. Practical examples of this are the Workmates Collective in the UK, Puerto Real Struggle in Spain involving the CNT, the Toledo Auto-Lite Strike or Buenos Aires Metro Wildcat Strike.
Back to the original theses though, other struggles are opening that show possible avenues of class struggle. These are the struggles for Tenants rights and menial casualized workplace struggles that have opened new organizations and tactics such as the Seattle Solidarity Network, the Solidarity Unionism of the I.W.W. and the Solidarity Collective in France. Common to these are the tactic of “Flying Pickets” – as Western Capitalism has displaced so many into underemployed positions creating a pool of unused labor that is directed in turn towards struggling against the casualization that created it, viz. “capitalism is its own gravedigger” is affirmed again, by creating mass picket lines in solidarity with workers or tenants without jeopardizing the workers of a particular industry or home all the while disrupting business. Other avenues of class struggle are opening along race/immigration, control over one’s body and sexual preference. As Capitalism tries to coerce us into certain Social Roles and divide us along certain nationalities or race there is a definite reaction against the state and therein against the Ruling Class. Linked to race there is foreclosure and the rising cost of transportation which are hitting people of color hardest. We need to create and expand existing mediums of self-expression, solidarity and direct action by which minorities – by extension the larger class as well – can confront foreclosure and the rising cost of transportation without losing sight to the broader revolutionary aspirations we pertain.
The highest point of Proletarian Autonomy will be with the creation of class-wide institutions with the capabilities of facilitating the grander processes of society without the Capitalist or the State. Such institutions have historically been akin to Workers’ Councils or Communes, but today are taking a shape closer to Community Councils or General Assemblies.
Against the State Communism
The Existence of the State is the Existence of Slavery. Where the state begins, individual liberty ceases. Against Communism from Bellow there is its revolutionary opposite: a Communism from Above expounded by the Marxist Deviants typically stemming from the tradition of Bolshevism and Social Democracy. The economic model promoted by these Party Communists has been proven a failure. It has been shown to reproduce the same exploitative qualities as Capitalism only under a different set of masters. The quality of these experiments in State Communism can be traced to the fact that where they have been tried there was never a Bourgeois Revolution to thrust the nation into the Capitalist epoch. In their place it was up to a popular front of the intelligentsia, petty bourgeois and peasants to revolutionize the relations of society as to facilitate the rise of an industrialized economy starting from the collectivization of agriculture, to create the conditions for real Communism. The proletarian content of these revolutions were crushed by the state – Kronstadt 1921 – or failed due to their internal and external limitations. There is no connection between Nationalization or a State Run Economy and true Communism. We follow the Anarchist dictum expounded Bakunin against State Communists that “freedom without Communism is privilege and injustice, and that Communism without freedom is slavery and brutality.”