People’s Self-Defense, Narodnaya Samooborona
Anarchy in the age of the robots
Manifesto of the radical democracy
We present to you a large article by Russian social revolutionary anarchists from the “People’s Self-Defense” (Narodnaya Samooborona) movement. This article is a summary of many texts of People’s Self-Defense, trying to adapt the ideas of anarchism to the 21st century. The article describes the structure of this world, the ways of changing it, the strategy and tactics of revolutionary anarchists, and also tries to describe the possible contours of anarchist society in the conditions of the 21st century. We hope the article will help to understand the ideas and methods of social revolutionary anarchists both to people who are only interested in anarchism and to those who are in search for answers to the questions that our time poses to anarchism.
“People’s Self-Defense” (Narodnaya Samooborona) is the largest anarchist movement in Russia in the past decade. Movement methods combined both political actionism and social struggle. For example, People’s Self-Defense brought into Russian anarchism areas such as the fight against banditry and dishonest employers through the direct action. People’s Self-Defense opposed itself to the “reformist” wing of the anarchist movement, and propagandized the revolutionary transformation of society and direct action as a way to resolve social conflicts.
After the rapid growth of the movement and a series of major political campaigns in 2017–2018, People’s Self-Defense was subjected to massive repression. Security officials have linked the movement with all the major actions of the anarchists in recent years, including the explosion of the FSB reception in Arkhangelsk by 17-year-old anarchist Mikhail Zhlobitsky in the fall of 2018. In 2018–2019, special services conducted hundreds of searches across the country, many participants and supporters of the movement were forced to leave Russia or were tortured and prosecuted. At the moment, the harassment of the movement by the security services continues. So, in the framework of the criminal case against the mathematician Azat Miftakhov, suspected of participation in the movement, a list was published containing about a hundred potential participants in the movement. There are cases when the police took fingerprints from street agitation posters in order to establish the movements supporters.
At the moment, the work of the organization in Russia is paralyzed by repressions, but the experience of the movement and theoretical developments may be of interest for discussion.
We really hope for constructive criticism, discussion and joint improvement of the text. We are ready to provide a platform for such constructive criticism. For all questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or in our telegramm chat @RebelWords.
1. How the world works. Global division of labor
Anarchists proceed from assumption that the modern economy is global, and it is impossible to divide economic systems of Western countries from economic systems of third-world countries. These systems are interconnected and in fact are a single organism, they are not isolated from each other and from the outer world. The economy should be considered in its entirety: it is not enough to say “these countries are rich, so we need to adopt their political model in order to become rich too.” We can consider how this world and the modern global system work by studying the global economic processes of production and distribution of goods and resources. We can do this by the example of the production of computers, smartphones and other such popular wares.
1.1 Mining, commodity-based countries
The production begins with children working in the Congo mines extracting coltan, the ore necessary for the production of processors. These mines, like all the richest reserves of resources in the Congo, belong to Western, Chinese and Russian corporations. These corporations control countries similar to Congo. They benefit from supporting corrupt dictatorships that protect corporate interests. Likewise, it is beneficial to keep the local economy low. There should not be a high standard of living; there should not be a developed local production. Commodity-based countries must be poor so that labor costs are cheap. Residents of such countries do not need education and qualifications. You do not need to be a professor to dig in the mines for two dollars a week and die at a young age from the diseases you received. The low level of development of the local economy, the low cost of local labor provides a low cost of raw materials. This benefits corporations that have saved on the extraction of raw materials, and benefits consumers of the final product, who received the goods at a lower cost. Only residents of commodity-based countries lose. Even if the resources are not controlled by corporations, but by local elites, they will, in principle, also be interested in a low level of labor costs in order to extract resources cheaper and sell them to the Western countries at higher.
1.2 Production, manufacturing countries
Then the extracted raw materials are transferred to the factories in Asia. There, local workers for pennies, without any labor rights and often without days off, produce parts for future computers, smartphones and other electronics. Then these parts are sent for assembly to factories in other Asian countries, where workers are in the same difficult conditions. In general the political situation and the interests of Western corporations and the governments of such countries are similar to the interests of commodity-based countries – to ensure the cheapest possible production, which attracts Western corporations to these countries. To this end, local governments must suppress local workers, prevent the formation of labor movements, strikes, ensure low wages and lack of social guarantees and political rights of the population. In that case international capital is invested in these countries. However, in contrast to the commodity-based countries, there is economic growth. This is similar to Bolshevik modernization in Russia, when the economy was rising through the over-exploitation of the population. A good example nowadays is China. Over time, the standard of living, wages, and generally the economy of such countries grows, and Western corporations are forced to look for new markets of cheap labor. To do this, they can intervene in the political processes of third-world countries in order to ensure more favorable political regimes and the economic situation.
What happens to the goods manufactured by workers in Asia? They disperse all over the world and are sold for a considerable amount of money, of which only a negligible portion will be obtained by hard workers from Asia and Africa. Where does the rest go? Most of it – to the cash register of Western corporations. Therefore, by exploiting the workers of the third-world, they receive even more money to control developing countries. A smaller part of the profit goes as taxes to the budgets of countries where production is located. And since corporate offices are located in Western countries, part of the profits goes to the budgets of Western countries. So, at the expenses of these funds, improvement of Western countries, development of their infrastructure, cities, high salaries and social benefits of Europeans become possible. So, while receiving money from the work of Africans and Asians, Europeans begin to grumble and teach them how to work properly and not sit on the neck of Europeans. This is hypocrisy.
1.4 Consumer society, irrational distribution of goods
At the same time, corporations stimulate increased demand for goods through marketing, planned obsolescence of goods or the constant release of new models with slight improvements, even where they can apply all the developments in one model at once. As a result, a paradoxical situation arises when the majority of the world’s population does not have basic goods, while Westerners throw away quality clothes, food, appliances, constantly buying new goods. For example, food alone in the United States annually is thrown up to $ 165 billion (up to 40% of food purchased). In addition to increasing volumes of production and consumption, all this leads to an irrational distribution of resources – labor, natural resources, etc. Instead of providing basic human benefits to all of humanity, the human resources of mankind are aimed at providing overconsumption and luxury for residents of the metropolitan countries.
1.5 World dumps
In addition to depletion of resources, this leads to pollution of our planet with garbage. Soil, air and water become polluted and less and less suitable for humans and all living things. A number of countries have turned into international garbage dumps, where corporations and Western governments take their garbage (often under the guise of “recycling”). The inhabitants of these countries live in world garbage, its processing in very primitive and unsafe conditions. Receiving miserable pennies for this work, by the age of thirty they are earning a number of serious illnesses that seriously reduce their job opportunities and life expectancy.
The most striking example of such a world dump is the largest city in Africa ,Lagos, with a population of 21 million inhabitants. The city has long turned into a world trash in which garbage from around the world is taken. Similar dumps exist in the countries of Asia (China, India, the Philippines, etc.) and Latin America (Mexico).
1.6 Migration, migrant supplying countries
Since Europeans are well-off at the expense of the labor of third-world workers, living in countries where all world wealth and money from all over the world flock, they themselves are not eager to work in low-paying, unattractive jobs. However, the Western economy needs cheap and unskilled labor not only in peripheral countries, but also in the European metropolis itself. Therefore, it requires labor migrants who would serve the local population and would be involved in unattractive jobs. Near the metropolitan countries we see a whole belt of countries supplying cheap labor. The Arab countries of North Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Russian province, Mexico … First of all, they must supply migrants to the metropolises – the USA, Western Europe, Japan, Moscow (which acts as a metropole in relation to Russia, like Europe and the USA to the whole world). On the other hand, nothing good shines in the countries that supply migrants themselves. They have a simple choice – stay here for pennies, work for the Western economy, or go to the west to serve Europeans and get more money, and in the future become one of the people of the first world living at the expense of labor from the rest of the world. Migration within countries occurs on the same principle, the population of the regions and the periphery seeks to leave for large cities, in which the country’s wealth is concentrated.
1.7 Chauvinism, competition between second-rate countries
Such a variety of migrant supplying countries cannot but cause a feeling of competition between different “second-rate” countries. From here come the roots of racism and other chauvinism. It is significant that racism is prevalent to a lesser extent among Western Europeans, who are served by migrants. But to a greater extent – it is common among Eastern Europeans, Slavic peoples who themselves claim to serve the Western white man. Moreover, racism is caused not only by cultural differences, but also by economic competition. The greatest hatred and chauvinism are caused by “fraternal”, similar peoples. So, chauvinism is extremely widespread in countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Poland. In Europe, migrants from these countries are also often carriers of chauvinistic prejudices, and not only and not so much towards Blacks and Asians, but with each other – with the same white Europeans. This hostility, nationalism and racism, are caused, first of all, by the struggle for a place in the international imperialist system. And bigger hatred will turn against the closest competitor, against the same Slav who claims to be in the same place.
Of course, in addition to cultural and economic reasons, chauvinism has political reasons and great-power ambitions that offer a way to conquer “greatness” and improve the country’s economic condition by conquering, subjugating and robbing neighbors.
1.8 Fascism and revanchism, the struggle for increasing status in the world system
Countries whose governments have failed to come to terms with the international elite, or whose needs and ambitions have grown over time, or whose people feel their place in the international system is unfair, not high enough, may represent a source of instability for the system. Typically, this is not a struggle against the world imperialist system, but a struggle within the framework of this system for a higher place. Religious and national conflicts, wars, extreme right-wing movements (religious, conservative, nationalist), as a rule, shock precisely such regions. Where the discontented element has sufficient opportunities for this, it begins to use force and threats to try to forcibly rebuild the system and change its place in it. In this way, regional and global tribal maker countries, “terrorist dictatorships”, ultra-right fascist and clerical regimes are formed. So global conflicts and imperialist wars arise. Fascism, clericalism, imperialism, and other forms of ultra-right politics are the choice of loser states trying to challenge their place in the world system. In other cases, the rise in popularity of ultra-rightist moods can be observed in metropolitan countries, which feel threatened by their privileged position and wish to maintain it.
1.9 Social democracy, a compromise between Western society and the state
Western, “successful” countries are rather conditionally leftist, social-democratic, with a high level of social guarantees and concern for the population. Although a century ago the Western peoples themselves were in a beggarly and slavish position, being absolutely powerless in front of the capitalists and governments, in the course of a stubborn struggle, people managed to beat out their rights, freedoms and social guarantees. These victories were achieved not by the good will of governments, but by the stubborn struggle of the peoples. In fact, the welfare state is a temporary compromise between Western societies and governments. This compromise is constantly challenged by governments that are trying to pass laws restricting citizens’ rights, freedoms and social guarantees. The adoption of these laws is not suspended in the parliaments, but on the streets where mass protests are unfolding. Only the organized power of society prevents the organized power of the state and the introduction of dictatorial and anti-people laws. As a result, governments and corporations are forced to resort to a moderate-left policy, reduce the exploitation of the inhabitants of the metropolis by moving production to third-world countries, and share with the citizens the benefits that come from the exploitation of the third-world. This compromise between society and the state in the West became possible for two reasons: the selfless struggle of the Western peoples and the exploitation of third-world countries. Western capitalism had much room to retreat – for this reason, it agreed with the demands of European workers. And for this reason, even much more powerful movements in third-world countries cannot achieve the same results. Local capital and government have nowhere to retreat; they cannot facilitate the exploitation of their subjects by increasing the exploitation of other peoples. Therefore, where in the West the problem can be solved by reform, in the third-world the problem is solved only by revolution. There can be no compromise, here the struggle can end only with the complete victory of one of the parties.
1.10 Anti-capitalist projects
At the same time, radical leftist attempts to reorganize the world within the framework of the modern global economy are, in fact, possible only with efforts in a number of regions that are capable of creating a self-sufficient economic system. As we showed above, modern production is global. And without participating in the global economy, which remains capitalist, the “liberated” countries cannot maintain the current level of production and consumption. We see that all attempts to rebuild the world in isolated countries are possible only as agrarian societies, or as rigidly centralized bureaucratic dictatorships. At the same time, both of them are still forced to interact economically with the capitalist world, and to some extent integrate into it. The creation of a new just world cannot begin with an isolated territory and must begin immediately with the destruction of the old international system.
2. Capitalism and the state
2.1 Concentration of wealth, global inequality as an inevitable consequence of capitalism
It is easy to see that the existing world economic system completely copies the principle of capitalist production and the distribution of goods on a scale of entire countries. The world system is based on the fact that millions of people are forced to work in enterprises belonging to few; millions are forced by joint efforts to produce all public goods, which then become the property of not producing society, but of individual capitalists. The capitalist principle of production and distribution has today been transferred to the international level of relations between different countries. This allows Western corporations to concentrate in their hands the wealth of not only Western countries, but of the whole world. So, today the income of the eight richest people in the world is equal to the income of half the world’s population. The wealth of 1% of the richest people exceeds the wealth of the remaining 99%. This is the logical outcome of the competition in capitalism. Utopians represent some ideal capitalism as a society of eternal competition between small capitalists. However, any struggle ends with the victory of one of the parties, the absorption of the weak side and the growth of the winner’s company. This is the logical outcome of any system based on competition and inequality. Slaveholding and feudal societies, which initially were the societies of many small slaveholders and feudal lords, in the end also came to a state where land and slaves were concentrated in the hands of a few. Today, this position of concentration of goods in the hands of a few individuals has reached capitalism.
2.2 State – a hierarchical organization for the redistribution of resources and subordination of society
The distribution of benefits from the majority to the minority is facilitated by the etatist form of society, in which all social life is regulated from the center. The bureaucratic hierarchical apparatus subordinates the whole life of society to the will of the few who are at the very top of the hierarchy. Throughout the history of the state, they have performed three main functions – strengthening the power of rulers and elites over ordinary people, redistributing the benefits of society in their favor, and fighting other states for control over peoples and resources.
The widespread belief that the state organizes all social and economic life is not true – states are only involved in the redistribution of goods produced by the whole society without state participation. Moreover, for most of its history, humanity has lived outside the state. Modern bureaucratic states and their institutions were formed just a few centuries ago. For example, the police institute in its present form was created only in the 19th century. Prior to that, most of the functions of social and economic regulation and maintenance of order were carried out by society itself, its grassroots self-government structures. History knows many examples of societies in which state institutions have been minimized and replaced by institutions of democracy. Such societies often became the most successful and prosperous in their age (ancient Athens, medieval Switzerland, etc.). Moreover, even the military and law enforcement functions were often carried out by non-state, democratic institutions with much greater efficiency than states do.
Only with the strengthening of the state apparatus over the past few centuries, lower-level self-government began to be supplanted by state regulation. Besides the obvious negative consequences, such as the organization of public life and the distribution of benefits in favor of the political and economic elite and to the detriment of the rest of society, this also had more dire consequences. This is the atomization of society, the removal of responsibility from one’s person and the public for one’s fate, the belief that decision-making is the destiny of large politicians, the inability to effectively organize grassroots, to recognize ordinary people and to unite for their defense, and to delegate this function to all kinds of politicians.
2.3 The modern state is a product of capitalism. Capitalism is a product of centralization
As mentioned above, the state in its modern, centralized form is a product of the time. For most of the European history, society was extremely decentralized, and the state was very weak. The state apparatus itself was plainly absent, being more like feudal gangs engaged in constant war with each other and the racket of the population. In this state chaos, self-government institutions were extremely widespread, which were the stronghold of order and public administration. The main social functions and the organization of labor were provided by self-government institutions of peasant communities and free cities. State and feudal institutions, on the other hand, were engaged only in weaning the products of labor and redistributing them in favor of the elite.
The construction of a modern state is associated with two processes. The first of these is the centralization of state power, during which the sovereigns, using conflicts between various groups of feudal lords and cities, were able to suppress the “feudal freemen” and begin to build a centralized state. Many of the foundations of modern states, such as bureaucracy and prototypes of regular armies, were laid precisely with the aim of strengthening the central government, which could suppress and impose its will on society and individual representatives of the elite.
The initial centralization of the state made possible the development of capitalist relations, which, in turn, provoked the further development of centralization. Under the “feudal freemen”, capitalist relations were constrained by the economic structure of medieval society and the decentralization of power.
2.4 Capitalism, borders and wars
Decentralization of power led to the fact that each local lord – urban community or feudal lord – set their own rules and duties for merchants moving through their lands. This made long-distance trade, passing through many lands and taxed with many duties, not too profitable. The process of centralization of the state and the establishment of uniform duties and rules for goods moving within the country gave a powerful impetu to trade. At the same time, state centralization defended the interests of national trade and industry, introducing high duties for the import of foreign goods. Each state was interested in closing its borders and markets for foreign goods, but forcing other states to open markets and borders for their goods. This led to constant wars, which were caused by economic reasons, and the rapid conquest of the most powerful and developed capitalist powers of weaker states. For the constant conquest of new markets and war between states, the creation of a permanent regular army in its modern form was required.
In the end, these considerations led to world wars. Only after the Second World War, according to the Atlantic Charter, concluded between the leading capitalist powers and involving open markets and open trade, the situation did change. However, in the last decade we see a resumption of economic wars and a return to a policy of high duties and trade restrictions.
2.5 Wage labor – the basis of capitalism
The very functioning of capitalism requires a large amount of labor — the poor and disempowered workers. The medieval society did not provide such a workforce. The urban population was artisans capable of providing themselves with their own labor. The peasant population, working on the land – their own, community or feudal lord – also independently provided for themselves. In such a society, there was not enough hired labor for the development of capitalism. Already in the Middle Ages, manufactories based on wage labor can be seen, but they did not constitute a significant part of the economy.
Therefore, the state and the most intelligent of the feudal lords began to pursue a conscious policy of impoverishment of the population, depriving them of the opportunity to work independently. In England, for example, one of the first to embark on the path of capitalist development, the feudal lords pursued a policy of an “enclosure” – drove peasants from their lands. The driven peasants marched on a hungry beggar mass to the city, where they joined the ranks of workers of textile factories, which allowed the textile industry to develop. On the liberated lands Aristocrats raised sheep, whose wool was sold to the textile industry. So, at the expense of impoverishing a huge number of people, an army of wage labor was created, necessary for the development of capitalist relations.
In the future, the state also cracked down on free artisans by introducing intolerable taxes and laws against them and their guild organizations. This led to the ruin of artisans and their transformation into hired labor. Thus, capital and the state deliberately pursued a policy of impoverishment of the population in order to provide capitalism with a large amount of labor. For people to work for the capitalist, people should not have the opportunity to feed themselves. Capitalism, therefore, is not a “voluntary agreement” between workers and capitalists, but capitalists and the state forcing people to poverty, depriving them of the ability to provide for themselves. And all this so that the results of society’s labor are not distributed among the direct producers, but are concentrated in the hands of the state and capital. Another means of redistributing wealth from the population to the capitalists by tradition is taxes.
2.6 Police and order
Despite claims that without the police people would simply kill each other, it is noteworthy that for most of its history, mankind did without the police. The functions of law enforcement for most of the history were in the hands of society itself. In the Middle Ages, cities even created their own militias to maintain the order, violated by the state itself and feudal gangs.
In the 18th century, in connection with the development of capitalism, which led to the destruction of traditional public institutions that maintained order earlier, such as peasant communities, city government, craft shops, etc., as well as the impoverishment of the population, a sharp increase in crime occurs in developed capitalist countries. A large mass of impoverished townspeople and peasants could no longer earn a living on their own, and public institutions that established order earlier were destroyed. Therefore, in the 18th century, you could see the creation of private police firms, which were involved in the fight against crime. In the 19th century, state centralized police in their modern form were already created. However, from the very beginning the police specialized in the function of suppressing workers ’speeches. The ruined townspeople and peasants, forced to work for the pennies for the capitalists, and not for themselves, were very rarely satisfied with the proposed conditions, which led to the growth of strikes, uprisings and the creation of workers’ organizations – trade unions. To this, capitalism and the state responded with violence from hired bandits, private detectives, and the state army. With the growth of labor protests in the capitalist countries, a police apparatus developed whose main task was to suppress protesters. Often, they acted along with hired bandits and turned a blind eye to the violence applied to workers, but reacted cruelly to any protests.
From the very beginning, the police were created to suppress society and force it to submit to the state and capital. By itself, the police are not involved in the suppression of crime. On the contrary, it protects the social order that generates crime. A repressive state policy, imprisonment of people, leads only to their marginalization, relapse and increased crime. The prison does not lead to the “correction” and socialization of the criminal, but to his desocialization, makes him acquintes with the criminal world, and creates difficulties in his adaptation to society.
Moreover, statistics tell us that the number of police does not correlate with the crime rate. Countries with the highest numbers of police may have a much higher crime rate than countries with fewer police officers. E.g. at the end of 2015 in Russia there were 476 police officers per 100 thousand inhabitants, while for the same 100 thousand people there were 11 murders, 2 rapes, 50 robberies, 709 thefts. In India, these figures respectively represented 135 police officers, 3 murders, 2 rapes, 2 robberies, 29 thefts.
What is noteworthy – even in rich countries the picture may not differ. So, in the richest country – the United States – crime rates are even higher than in Russia: 4 murders, 38 rapes, 101 robberies, 1773 thefts. But we see that the level of crime is very much correlated with the level of inequality. So, in countries with the lowest level of inequality, we see a low crime rate. In poor countries, however, it will be higher than in rich countries, while in countries with a high level of inequality, even if these are very rich countries, we also see a very high crime rate. Naturally, the level of inequality is not the only criterion leading to an increase in crime. In an extremely impoverished society, crime and the struggle for resources will be extremely high, even if the initial level of inequality there is extremely low. However, even in rich countries, we see that a high level of inequality will be accompanied by a high level of crime, even if the country has an extremely swollen police apparatus. Thus, the real fight against crime is not conducted by the police and prisons, but by creating favorable conditions for everyone, by the fair distribution of funds in society.
This is confirmed by the experiment conducted in Ecuador. Instead of fighting youth criminal gangs, local authorities decided to legalize them and socialize them in society. Each gang could be legalized, receive grants for social and cultural projects, and gang members could receive an education. Such a policy has led to a sharp decline in crime and the decriminalization of gangs. The policy pursued, for example, by the American authorities, which consisted in inflating the police apparatus and a strict repressive policy towards gangs, did not lead to the desired result. Thus, the main task of the police is not to fight crime (which it most likely contributes to), but to suppress society and subordinate it to the state.
2.7 Capitalism – the global system
As we showed in the previous part, capitalism is a global economic system. And it was so from the very beginning. So, for example, the expulsion of peasants from the lands in the metropoly of the capitalist world led to increased serfdom on the outskirts of the capitalist world – in Russia, the Commonwealth, Spain and so on. The metropoly, whose growing population has shifted from agriculture to industrial production, was forced to purchase large quantities of bread and grain from undeveloped countries. The creation of a sales market made landowners interested in the increased exploitation of the peasantry, the production of more products, and the enslavement of the peasantry. Previously, before the emergence of such large-scale markets, it was simply meaningless. Thus, the development of capitalism in the center led to the development of feudal systems on the outskirts of the world system.
Also, as we have seen, this is happening now. Social democracy and “capitalism with a human face” in the metropolitan countries are ensured by the dictatorships and wild capitalism of third world countries. There is no “right” or “wrong” capitalism; there is no national capitalism. There is simply capitalism, as a global system, and a place in this system of individual countries. Any country embedded in the global economy is capitalist today.
2.8 Representation – justification of authority
The state’s power has always and everywhere been based on violence. The only right that takes place is the right of the strongest. However, if the state had explicitly postulated that it rules over by violence, its power would not be sustainable. At all times, the state needed to convince society of the legitimacy of its rule. Antique and medieval aristocracy substantiated their rule by birthright. Aristocrats relied on some higher breed of people, more capable of governance, and the public was inspired by the idea that the rule of the aristocracy would lead to a better policy for all. Theocracy and medieval monarchies justified their power by God’s will. They ruled because it was so pleasing to God, and as it was pleasing to God. An attempt on their power meant an attempt on the will of the Lord.
In the age of Enlightenment, the principle of legitimacy has changed. Enlightenment philosophers have come to the conclusion that a government that does not represent the interests of its subjects is tyrannical and unjust. And any rule should be carried out with the sanction of citizens. However, the philosophers of enlightenment themselves already understood the utopianism of such a position. So, Rousseau wrote that representation is an utopia. Deputies cannot act as any representatives; they cannot represent anyone’s position except their own. Elections, on the other hand, are not an instrument of representation, but, on the contrary, an instrument of dictatorship, since it deprives citizens of the right to independently decide their fate and transfers this right to deputies. Rousseau saw an ideal society as direct democracy with limited representative bodies.
However, based on the false thesis about the impossibility of direct democracy on a large scale, the idea of representation was adopted. In the end, this led to a change in the justification of authority. If earlier rulers declared that they rule because they are better, stronger, or because it is pleasing to God, then after the victory of the ideas of representation, each regime sought to be “popular”, to explain that it rules, represents the interests of the people. Almost any regime of the 19th and 20th centuries relied on the idea of political representation. The republics and monarchies, Fascists, Bolsheviks and “ordinary” dictators competed in demagogues, explaining that they are in a dominant position exclusively representing the will of the people – all or part of it. Especially Lenin succeeded in this, deriving formulas that the dictatorship of the masses is equal to the one-man dictatorship of the leader of the “party of the proletariat.” The Fascists who proclaimed the unity of the state and the people, or the Monarchists who proclaimed the “popular status” of the autocracy, went as far. The idea of representation turned into the same propaganda device designed to justify the dominance of some people over others, like the “divine will” in the Middle Ages, or the “rule of the best” of the ancient aristocracy.
The most consistent idea of political representation is expressed in parliamentarism. Unlike overtly dictatorial forms of government, demagogically explaining exactly how dictatorial power represents a people, class or nation, parliamentarism introduces a specific mechanism that should ensure political representation – elections. During the election, the people independently elect themselves gentlemen, who will rule on their behalf – deputies and presidents. Thus, the government of the people is really allegedly carried out with people’s consent.
However, all power in this case remains in a single center, in the hands of a very small number of people – the parliament and/or president. These people also exercise real power, building a power vertically from top to bottom. At the very top of which are the “chosen people” who determine politics and are in the position of governors, and at the very bottom – are ordinary people who are in the position of governed. The managers during their reign are not controlled in any way by those whom they “represent”. Citizens can not influence the politics of their “representatives”. The only way is to vote in the next election for another party. But in parliamentary countries we see that different parties of different ideological orientations, changing in power, pursue the same policy in the interests of the rich. Left, right, centrists – their policy is very little different from each other, which causes disappointment of Westerners in the very idea of parliamentarism.
The reason for this is the dependence of political “representatives” on corporations and oligarchs. The economy is in their hands. Moreover, the “representatives” themselves are extremely dependent on the capitalists. Although “equality of opportunity” and a formal opportunity to be elected and participate in politics for all have been proclaimed, but one way or another it requires huge financial resources. Not to mention the fact that in order to fully engage in political activities, a person must be relieved of work. A huge amount of money is required for maintaining projects, regional headquarters, staff, disseminating information, political advertising, and so on. A hard worker from the factory, forced to work 12 hours a day, and having no money, will not be able to compete on an equal footing with the oligarch who owns billions.
And since most of the funds today are concentrated in the hands of the capitalists, it is more logical for politicians to find large sponsors. A single large capitalist may have far greater means of financing a campaign than thousands or even millions of poor supporters. And just as it is profitable for a politician to enlist the support of such a capitalist, it is also beneficial for a capitalist to invest in such a politician in order to have his own person in power, depending on him and defending his interests. Since the capitalist, unlike a simple voter, has leverage over politicians. As a result, parliamentarism can indeed claim to be an instrument of political representation. But the representation is not of the people, not of the voters, but of the capitalists.
At the same time, we are talking above about parliamentarism in its idealized form. In reality, often the state bureaucracy can become an independent player, using power and administrative opportunities for its own enrichment and further retention of power.
2.10 The power of corporations
This state of affairs, when most of the wealth of mankind is concentrated in the hands of corporations, when the internal policies of individual states and the entire world economy depend on them, make transnational corporations the main carrier of power in the modern world. Their power is not limited to the framework of specific states, and extends to most countries. Their power goes far beyond the actual economic sphere – the possession and disposal of public resources. That and the political power makes politicians and entire states depend on them. The same goes for military power – even today private military companies are participating in military conflicts, which are entire armies, subordinate not to the state, but to corporations and capitalists. In such a situation, states are more likely to be servants of the capitalists, competing among themselves in attracting corporations. The task of the state today is to create favorable conditions for doing business, curtail the social state, break the resistance of society and subordinate it to the interests of corporations and bureaucracy.
With the development of technology, corporations gain power in another important area. This is control over the network infrastructure, ownership of information and data on billions of people around the world. The more the Internet and social networks enter our lives, the more we depend on the technologies and platforms of some individual corporations (Microsoft, Google, etc.), the more power they get over us. Today, a user of search engines, social networks, Google services leaves a huge array of data about himself. Travels, searches, interests, social connections, personal correspondence, preferences in music or movies – this list goes on and on. All this becomes the property of corporations. This information may be used in any way. In politics, sociology (in the interests of corporations and states, of course), advertising is provided to special services, or simply can be used to pressure a particular user and blackmail him.
While states are trying in the old fashion to gain control in this area through decrees, prohibitions, new laws, corporations are more flexible and efficient. We ourselves provide this data to corporations, simply using their services, without even realizing it. When the state tries to gain control by threatening with a baton, this naturally provokes indignation. But when corporations get much more control using much less obvious, much softer and more flexible tools, we don’t even notice it.
A modern person is extremely dependent on the services provided by corporations. In particular, this applies not only to the Internet, but also to the devices used and their software. Various systems are somehow tied to one or another corporation, and in order to use the services of a corporation, we are often forced to switch to the software of these corporations. Internet, computers, smartphones – all this is one of the key moments of modern life. And the one who controls them, controls our data and devices, to a large extent controls the lives of billions of people. And this power is not limited by any national borders. Increasingly, we see how in clashes between corporations and states trying to limit their power or establish their own control over areas in which corporations dominate, states lose and corporations emerge victorious.
2.11 The decline of capitalism?
Moreover, the modern model of social structure, like all previous ones, is not eternal. The system is not immutable; many processes and changes take place in it, under the influence of which the world order itself is changing. These threats come from many sides. The resistance of the oppressed masses is not weakening; ever new mass movements and revolutionary projects are emerging. The system itself is constantly confronted with political and economic crises that shake its very foundations.
The struggle for a place on the upper floors of the system brings to life imperialist wars, ultra-right regimes, and casts doubt on the possibility of welfare and security even for citizens of metropolitan countries. The economic model of modern capitalism itself, based on the output of production in third world countries, feeds Western competitors by developing the economies of Asian countries to the extent that they are able to challenge the hegemony of the metropolis. Finally, the technological development of mankind itself, the transition to robotic production, casts doubt on the capitalist principle of production and distribution of goods, based on wage labor. If, in the end, wage labor is supplanted by robotic labor producing more goods that unemployed consumers will not be able to buy, the very principle of private ownership of the means of production is called into question, it becomes absurd in the framework of capitalist logic.
We see that threats to the system are found everywhere. Even in itself there are many contradictions leading to its inevitable end. It will not be eternal, the only question is what will replace it? A new Middle Ages, a nuclear post-apocalypse, new and even more terrible forms of dictatorship and inequality, a cyberpunk anti-utopia, or a new society of universal democracy and equality?
3. New society
3.1 Basic principles of a new society
A society that should replace international capitalism must also be global, but it must be based on completely different principles. Unlike a modern centralized society (both in terms of concentration of all wealth in several countries, and in terms of monopolizing the right to make decisions in politics and economy in the hands of a narrow layer of capitalists and officials), the new society should be built on the basis of decentralization. This means an even distribution of wealth between and within societies and everyone’s participation in all socially significant decisions. The even distribution of wealth and the transfer of all power to the hands of the people’s assemblies will solve most of today’s global problems.
3.2 Direct democracy
The political system of the new society should be based on the power of popular assemblies. Unlike the current system, where people are powerless and speechless, and power comes from a single center, to which the state apparatus and society are subordinate, in a system of direct democracy, the bearers of supreme power should be many public assemblies organized on a territorial basis.
All kinds of specialized commissions should be accountable and subordinate to the national assemblies. Coordination between different territorial entities (districts, cities, etc.) should not be carried out by the state bureaucracy, but through a system of e-democracy and delegation meetings, to which grassroots bodies of democracy will send delegates to convey their position without the right to make independent decisions. The control of delegation meetings today can be carried out via the Internet, with the possibility of immediate recall of delegates who have exceeded their authority.
In addition, universal participation in decision-making today is possible through the creation of special platforms on the Internet, such as social networks, where it is possible to put forward socially significant initiatives, discuss them and vote on them. Decisions affecting one or another community should be taken only after a long discussion by all interested communities, coordination of the wording of the issue and referendum on it.
Such democratic systems are not a figment of the imagination of cabinet theoreticians, but a just aspiration of peoples, which are repeatedly realized in practice. Thus, similar political systems operated in ancient Greece, medieval Switzerland, and a number of revolutionary societies of the 19th and 20th centuries, and they operate today. For example, among Mexican Zapatista.
In the following paragraphs we describe how such a system could work in the modern world. This does not mean that the models proposed here are the only true and uncontested. In the end, the exact structure of a democratic society will be determined by the people themselves. The model we are proposing is just an option by which everyone can get an idea of how direct democracy can work.
3.3 National Assembly
The highest carrier of power, to which all other public institutions should be subordinate, should be the people’s assemblies of the citizens of the districts, organized in the likeness of ancient Athenian ecclesia. It is the people’s assemblies that must solve all the basic issues affecting the life of the district. Inside the assembly, all citizens should enjoy equal rights and opportunities.
3.4 Organization of the national assembly
The implementation of the technical functions of organizing a national assembly should be handled by special short-term committees. They should be limited to purely technical functions, such as preparing the meeting, notifying the place and time of the meeting, drawing up an agenda from the proposals of the meeting participants, moderating the meeting. After each meeting, the committee must be re-elected from new members. Everyone must fulfill the duties of the committees in shifts, that is, no one can be re-elected to the committee a second time, as long as there are citizens who have not participated in the committee.
A similar system operated in Athenian democracy, where the activity of ecclesia was organized by the special technical council of Boule, whose members were regularly re-elected by lot. In the old democratic systems, the agenda of the meetings was drawn up in advance, all comers made their proposals on the boards specially set up for this purpose, and the members of Boule made the agenda on their basis. Today, the meeting agenda can be drawn up through electronic platforms where everyone can put forward a proposal for consideration, and the rest of the meeting participants can reject or accept the issue for consideration by the voting system.
3.5 Coordination of public assemblies
Decisions of a wider level (cities, regions, etc.) should be coordinated by the people’s assemblies of all interested territorial units. A similar system operated in medieval Switzerland – delegates from national gatherings of different lands met, exchanged information about the decisions of the inhabitants of the lands, and then conveyed this information to the delegations that delegated them, where a new decision was made that was compromised in relation to the opinions of other lands. Thus, these decisions were agreed until all participants came to a single decision. Not a single territorial unit of the full members of the Swiss Confederation could be forced to implement the decision of other lands. Despite the fact that important decisions were made by consensus (that is, unanimously), this did not affect the effectiveness of public organization, and Switzerland became one of the most successful countries in medieval Europe.
Now the institution of delegates is less relevant and can be replaced by electronic communication, with the help of which information about the decision of other meetings can be received much more quickly. In this case, the question of whether by consensus or by voting issues between different territorial units should be agreed upon is a technical one and should be resolved in practice.
3.6 Positions and profile committees
Specialized activities for the implementation of decisions of meetings and the maintenance of social infrastructure (providing electricity, water supply, etc.) should be carried out by elected specialized commissions and officials. Unlike the state model, where officials are appointed and subordinate to higher officials, in the democratic system, any officials must be elected by the assemblies themselves, and they can be recalled at any time. Decisions of officials must be approved by the public (in meetings or by electronic voting), except in cases of emergency. For their activities, officials should be responsible to the citizens who placed them in this position.
In the case of officials and committees carrying out activities beyond the jurisdiction of a particular meeting, such committees and positions must either be coordinated by various territorial units, or collegial with the participation of all territorial units, and with the need for approval of decisions by all units (by vote or consensus).
Complex problems requiring specialized knowledge in economics, sociology, etc., must also be accepted by the population itself. For this, firstly, it is necessary to change the education system so that it gives citizens knowledge in the relevant fields. And secondly, any such decisions should go through discussion by the scientific community. Institutions and expert councils can conduct their own analysis of problems, propose specific solutions, and make them publicly available for study. But the final decision is made by the population itself.
3.7 Political and territorial structure
It is clear that such a system can only exist in federation, with a very high level of political autonomy of individual territorial units (that is, with elements of a confederation). Coordination between different subjects of the federation should be carried out according to the same principles as coordination between various national assemblies.
As for the legislation and legal norms in such a society, they should be divided into local and federal: individual territorial units independently adopt laws in force in their territory, but in addition to this, a number of provisions common to the whole federation that determine the general structure and rights of individual entities federations, as well as the rights and laws common to all citizens and all entities.
3.8. Laws and referenda
Laws and other legal norms must be adopted by the company itself. The legislative initiative (that is, the right to put forward a law for consideration) should be possessed by individual territorial units and each citizen. A territorial unit of a certain scale (city, region, etc.) should be able to put forward a bill for consideration by the entire federation or its constituent entity, for consideration by popular assemblies and its adoption by vote or consensus.
An individual citizen should be able to submit a bill for consideration through a specialized site mentioned above, built in the image of social networks, with the obligatory verification of each user. After maintaining his proposal a certain number of users, the bill should be adopted for consideration.
The first stage of the adoption of the bill is the approval of its final wording. Everyone should have the opportunity on the same electronic platform to put forward their own proposal on the wording of the proposal, and the final version is adopted by voting on the same site. After agreeing on the wording, the proposal is submitted to a referendum of the subject of the federation within which the bill is proposed, or the entire federation.
Voting can also take place either through the system of public meetings, or through the same site. It is possible that in order to avoid fraud, such voting should be open. Or it should be provided with a technical opportunity for everyone to monitor the voting process and gain access to technical data on it.
3.9 Keeping order
Political power has always been built on the possibility of using violence against society. Any specialized institution that has a monopoly on the use of violence will use this right to suppress the rest of society and subordinate it to itself and its interests. Therefore, the maintenance of order should be carried out by society itself, and not by individual officials and organizations. Firstly, we are talking about the general arming of the people. Upon reaching a certain age and taking courses according to the rules for handling weapons (including, among other things, the theory of possible situations of their use), the storage of weapons should be the responsibility of every citizen. Regulation of the use of weapons, their movement, public wearing, etc. should be carried out by society itself through a system of direct democracy.
Patrolling the streets and maintaining order should be carried out by national teams, participation in which is alternate and mandatory for all. Abuse of power by squads should be considered by direct democracy bodies and lead to exclusion from participation in squads, or to other sanctions. Crime investigations should be carried out by officials with special skills and elected by local popular assemblies. Like any other officials, such criminologists must keep a report on their activities before the national assembly, and make the materials of the investigation publicly available after it has ended, as well as obtain the approval of the meeting for the prosecution and, if necessary, the arrest of the suspect after his arrest.
3.10 Judicial system
The judicial system of direct democracy can be based on the system adopted in ancient Athens. A people’s court should be formed not from special people with the exclusive right to make decisions, but from the citizens themselves. Like the ancient Athenian dicastries, such courts must be constantly re-elected (by lot or vote), and there must be a constant rotation in them. Like responsibilities in the people’s squads and committees for the preparation of public assemblies, citizens must carry out duties in the judicial system in shifts. Cases must be dealt with by a large number of citizen judges passing a sentencing vote – such an extended version of a jury trial.
If the crime is committed by a citizen of one territorial unit in the territory of another territorial unit, or if a dispute occurs between residents of different territorial entities, then judges from different territorial units must participate in the court in equal numbers – not only those from where the criminal is from and where the crime happened, but also a large number of other territorial entities to ensure the impartiality of the court. The people’s court should have an alternative in the form of an arbitration court, when the various parties of the case agree to consider their case with a third party, which they both trust.
The decision of the people’s court can be appealed to the assembly or by voting on a special site – with a certain number of votes for reviewing the case, it should go to the court with an expanded representation of territorial entities. The decision of this court, with a certain number of votes for the next review of the case, may be reviewed by referendum.
The system of sanctions applied by society for crimes should be completely reviewed. The prison system in its current form does not meet the goals of correction of prisoners, but rather, on the contrary, marginalizes them. The prison should be replaced by social work with prisoners at home or in special social centers in which criminals should not be subject to significant restrictions on freedom, and where special social workers, psychologists, etc. should work with them. Criminals must take socialization courses, receive education, etc.
Arrest is possible only as an exceptional measure with the sanction of the national assembly. Other possible sanctions may be the mandatory passage of certain courses, community service to correct the damage. In cases of abuse by a citizen of any rights, abuse of his duties, etc., he may be subjected to atimia – permanent or temporary partial deprivation of specific rights that he abuses, and the ability to occupy a position in which he behaved unprofessionally or abused his duties.
In the case of serious crimes or the constant commission of offenses, the offender may be ostracized – deprivation of citizenship and a ban on visiting the territory of a particular subject of the federation (or even the entire territory of the federation).
In exceptional cases, it is possible to consider the use of the death penalty.
The existence of a specialized army divorced from the people serves as a tool to subjugate the people and build political power, like the institution of the police. As one Chinese dictator expressed this idea, a rifle gives rise to power. For this reason, there should not be a specialized army. The military function should also be performed by society itself.
In all democratic societies in history there was a realization that people’s self-government can only be protected by the people’s militia. Every citizen who wants to enjoy political rights must also bear the responsibility of protecting his rights and building a direct democracy.
Contrary to the claims of statists that such a system is ineffective in comparison with a centralized army, history refutes this thesis. Since ancient times, we have seen many examples of militia victories over centralized armies. The victory of the ancient Greek militias over the Persian army, the victory of the German military democracies over the Roman Empire, the victory of the Swiss peasants over the Austrian knights, the Chechen peasants over the Dagestan feudal lords, the victory of the militias of free cities over the feudal armies. In modern times, we see an example of the Boers, whose armed forces, being built on the principle of a militia, put up extremely effective resistance to the British troops. The twentieth century showed us an example of Makhnovism and partisan armies. Today, in the war in the Middle East, we see that the most effective armed force is the Kurds, built on the principle of militia.
That is, the thesis of the military insolvency of the militias was refuted in any historical periods.
How should the militia of a democratic society be arranged? Military training of citizens should be carried out from adolescence and be an important part of the education system. In adulthood, regular participation in military training should also be the responsibility of a citizen.
A military structure should be formed on the basis of the territorial subjects of the federation, and the structure of the militia should be built on the basis of meetings of militias. All commanding posts in the militia, up to the highest, must be elected by the soldiers themselves. Commanders should be held accountable for militia meetings, which should be able to remove commanders. Soldiers’ meetings should also be able to discuss orders issued by commanders. Obedience to orders in a combat situation should be mandatory, but after the battle the commander should be responsible to the soldiers.
The lower positions, commanding separate formations and units, are elected by the soldiers of these units themselves. The highest command is elected by the entire population by voting for a specified period, with the possibility of early withdrawal through the voting system. Also, the highest command after the termination of powers should be responsible for the strategy it pursues with the population.
As for specialized military units requiring complex technical skills (such as military service), it is entirely possible to create permanent military units subordinate to the decisions of direct democracy bodies. The presence of a permanent military organization of the armed people should prevent the possibility of a military coup and seizure of power by such units. A similar system existed, for example, in the Boer republics, where the armed forces were built on the principle of a militia, but the artillery units were specialized.
The education system of a democratic society should be based on completely different principles than today. The school should not only give ready-made knowledge, but develop the child’s ability to self-study and critical thinking, as well as teach the knowledge necessary for participation in public life and independent analysis of social problems. The emphasis in education should be placed on such social disciplines that will help a person understand and analyze the political and economic processes taking place in society, as well as such applied disciplines that develop logic, collective discussion skills and critical thinking. In view of the importance in modern society and in such a democratic system, especially information technology, great emphasis should also be placed on them.
In general, it is necessary to change the method of education itself: instead of modern prison-like education that suppresses critical thinking, it is necessary to prompt and encourage students to independently study the disciplines of interest to them.
3.14 Emancipation of labor
Such a wide range of civil duties in the field of public self-government, military service, the judicial and law enforcement systems for each citizen, involves a huge amount of time that everyone will have to devote to these responsibilities. This is not possible within the current economic system. After a working day, a person often has neither the strength nor the time to participate in public life.
In ancient democracy, this issue was often resolved by shifting a significant part of the work onto the shoulders of slaves, which freed citizens to participate in democracy. However, such a system is not only not ethical and inhumane, it leads to social stratification and the emergence of an economic elite that seeks to concentrate political power and the economic benefits of society in its hands.
How can this problem be solved today?
It should be noted that according to scientists, as early as the beginning of the 20th century, humanity produced enough food and basic necessities to satisfy the needs of all the people living at that time. Since then, the amount of goods produced by mankind has increased many times, but this did not lead to the provision of every person with everything necessary. A large number of resources are ending up in the trash, while a significant number of people die of hunger. Irrational distribution of resources leads to the fact that no matter how much humanity produces, it will never be able to provide everyone. But instead, the phenomenon of “worthless work”, a welfare, was created when people perform socially worthless work or even sit on benefits. Most of humanity today is engaged in unproductive or completely meaningless work. The army of private security agencies, security guards, officials sitting on benefits, all kinds of managers … For example, about one and a half million guards in Russia alone.
The rational distribution of resources, including labor, may well solve this problem and significantly reduce the working day of a working person. Instead of 8–12 hours, a person today may well work for three to four hours, with an increase in the number of shifts caused by an increase in the number of workers due to those people who today are engaged in useless work. In addition, modern research shows that shorter working hours have a positive effect on labor productivity.
The free time can be used to participate in public life.
In the future, the ongoing automation of production, agriculture, the service sector and other economic processes can, in principle, free a person from the need to engage in physical labor.
3.15 Decentralized planned economy
However, democracy, limited by the political side and providing for economic inequality, the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, has never been stable, sooner or later giving way to the dictatorship of the oligarchy. Politics is inextricably linked with the economy, and a new society based on old principles will inevitably reproduce the old system.
Therefore, a new society must be built on new economic principles. Unlike the capitalist and Bolshevik models, in which wealth and control is concentrated in the hands of relatively small but well-organized groups of people – corporations and states (which gives them power over society and each individual person depending on these wealth), in a new society economics and the management of goods, as well as politics and decision-making, should be in the hands of direct democracy.
Neither the capitalist nor the official should own the enterprises in favor of their own interests, or even labor collectives (since production is global). But the whole society, jointly launching the economic mechanism, must determine the economy in its own interests.
3.16 Production Robotization
As modern technologies and the Internet facilitate the process of direct democracy, they also facilitate the coordination of production in a social economy. A significant part of production processes today can be robotic. Consumers can order the goods they need on sites like modern online stores. Based on the requests, a production plan is compiled, which is distributed between the industries (in the future – completely robotic). The use of artificial intelligence in planning will optimize logistics issues for the delivery of goods to consumers, as well as predict, based on data on previous orders, the estimated demand for certain goods and the estimated workload of individual industries and their need for raw materials.
Such a decentralized planned economy is an alternative to both state bureaucratic centralized planning and capitalist centralized corporate planning. But, unlike the state and corporate models, such a system will provide equal access for all peoples and each individual to the benefits produced by the joint efforts of all peoples. Increasingly robotic production processes, impossible within the framework of capitalist logic, will increasingly free a person from the need to work for survival, and will allow him to devote more and more time to his own development, science, art, sports, participation in public and political life. The ultimate ideal to move towards is robotic communism and electronic direct democracy of a society of scientists and technicians.
3.17 Enterprise Management
As it was said, all enterprises should be in public ownership, and the plan of enterprises should be drawn up by automated systems. Services and goods produced by enterprises should not belong to the employees or owners of the enterprise, but should be distributed among the logistics centers according to the production plan. In exchange, the employees of the enterprise gain access to the distribution system and the opportunity to receive the goods produced by society through this system.
Management of labor processes in enterprises should be carried out by a meeting of workers. All officers and responsibilities must also be elected and accountable to the workers’ meeting. At large enterprises, it is possible to appoint leadership positions not by the labor collective, but by direct democracy bodies, upon the approval of a suitable candidate as a result of public discussion and voting.
3.18 Distribution centers
Produced goods should be distributed to special centers located in each district. Work in distribution centers should also be carried out by all citizens in turn, in order to avoid the formation of a corrupt bureaucracy.
All processes in distribution centers should be constantly monitored – an automated system for recording incoming and distributed goods, and constant online video surveillance, broadcasting what is happening on special sites on the Internet.
Or, if labor resources and logistic conditions allow this, it is possible to deliver goods from distribution centers to home to end consumers. In the future, this process is likely to be robotic as well.
3.19. 3D printers
3D printing technology can complement this planned economy. The development of this technology in the future will make it possible to install in each house various 3D printers that print with various materials, just as today more and more electronic equipment appears in every house. Compare the quality and quantity of computers in the 80s and modern smartphones, laptops and other similar equipment. Undoubtedly, a similar rapid development awaits 3D printing.
This will significantly relieve industrial production and make it possible for everyone to independently produce a wide range of goods at home. Moreover, what is important, these products will not be as uniform as possible, we are not talking about the production of one type of pants.
Everyone can develop their own model for printing, and share these models via the Internet. With the development of such technology, the need for mass production will decrease, and it will be used in the production of complex equipment, electronics, etc. The ability to produce household goods at home for everyone will seriously unload both production and logistics. Not only specific products will be delivered to consumers, but raw materials for printing products.
3.20 Economic planning
As was said, the main planning should be carried out by automated systems. Planning should also be controlled by posts that are elected and accountable to direct democracy, and all technical information should be published openly and accessible to everyone. Analysis of the economy, planning, efficiency and transparency of the applied technical systems and proposals for their reform on the basis of these data can be carried out by special expert councils of specialists and the scientific community, institutes, for the further publication of specific forecasts and proposals. The final decision, the adoption of certain reforms and proposals, should be carried out in the course of public discussions and referenda.
4. The road to a New Society
How to achieve such a society? Today, there are three main directions. The first is the development of decentralization technologies that help society and individuals to get out of the control of the state and corporations.
The second is the development of structures of civil society and self-government, having organized within the framework of which citizens could independently organize their life and society bypassing the structures of states and corporations. The forms and methods of such structures can significantly differ from each other, depending on the conditions and characteristics of each individual region or country.
Third, the creation and development of a strong social revolutionary movement, conscious of its goal of creating such a society, acting in accordance with a clearly understood strategy. The objectives of such a movement are the promotion of the ideas of direct democracy and the social revolution, the organization of supporters of such ideas in power, capable of influencing events in society, the creation of their own initiatives and projects, as well as promoting the development of civil society.
4.1 The revolutionary subject
Theories striving to change the world are constantly trying to find some kind of “revolutionary subject” – that group of people who are most interested in the revolution, and which should carry out this revolution. This is the environment within which revolutionaries must work to organize it into a revolutionary force.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the working class was perceived as such a “revolutionary subject”. Anarchists and Marxists organized workers in the struggle for their rights. The social revolutionary movements of the past sought to destroy the old order by revolution and build a new society on its place. However, the better the position of the workers became, the greater concessions on the part of the capitalists and the state they achieved, the less radical and interested in the revolution they were. In the 20th century, among the left, there was a talk about that “the proletariat had bribed”, and new searches for a “revolutionary subject” began. It was seen in those groups that were the most powerless – women, African Americans, LGBT people, national minorities, etc. But each time the situation repeated itself – having won the rights, the “revolutionary subject” was built into capitalist society, and its demands became part of the official agenda.
Obviously, a “revolutionary subject” is not a specific, clearly defined group. A “revolutionary subject” can be any group that is currently discriminated against and disenfranchised, dissatisfied with this, and therefore more susceptible to radical ideas. However, having achieved its goal, it loses all its revolutionary potential. Therefore, the main question is not what group of people the revolutionaries should work with. Depending on the situation and conditions, these may be migrants, workers, women, LGBT people, national minorities, etc. The question is in what form to do it, what requirements to set and what methods to use.
If we proclaim as our goal the struggle for rights, the implementation of some reforms, then such activity is rather harmful, since it is not aimed at radicalizing the subject, not at overthrowing the modern system, but at strengthening and improving it. These are the positions from which we criticize liberal feminism and the politics of identities – they set as their goal, as a rule, only the inclusion of some groups in the number of “privileged” sections of the population. But capitalism always compensates for the decrease in the exploitation of some groups by intensifying the exploitation of other groups. As was, for example, after the removal of production from Europe to third world countries, where people are often forced to work in slave conditions. Anyone who wants to simply improve the position of a group in a society based on injustice and an unequal distribution of wealth is neither a revolutionary nor a fighter for a just and equal society.
When working with people, we should set as our goal not the achievement of any rights and reforms, but the creation of a grassroots organization capable of withstanding the organized power of the state and capital and organizing society on a new basis. This is what corresponds, for example, to the position of the anarcho-syndicalists in the labor movement. Unlike trade unionists, who aimed at raising wages and labor rights, revolutionary anarchists saw the labor struggle only as a method for organizing workers, among whom they campaigned not for reform, but for social revolution.
Historically, we see that the working class only then was truly revolutionary close to the embodiment of the anarchist ideal when it was organized with the goal of revolution, and not reform. Absolutely the same thing can be said about any groups. The question is not which groups to work with. The question is how to do this.
Any of our actions should be aimed at the development of the anarchist movement, the spread of anarchist views, and the creation of grassroots social structures, self-sufficient and independent from the state in solving social problems. At the same time, creating grassroots social structures, we must not forget about the ultimate goal – the social revolution, the socialization of the means of production, resources and power. Our immediate task is also to spread the word and our own example of will, decisiveness, uncompromisingness, revolutionary ethics among the oppressed strata of the population.
We criticize the reformist approach for several reasons. Firstly, it aims only to improve the system, and not to destroy it. We know that injustice and violence within the framework of capitalism and the state cannot be eradicated. They may include certain groups in the system of consumption of goods, but this will always be based on violence against the majority.
Secondly, we know that the state makes concessions only under the pressure of the organized power of society, and as soon as the public calms down, these concessions will be canceled or offset by an offense in another area.
Thirdly, relying on the solution of the issue through the state, people rely on its mercy and translate faith in the state, that it can work for the benefit of citizens. This is all that we deny. Such faith contradicts both the revolutionary perspective and the independent unification of citizens to solve their problems. They simply do not need to do this if they believe that problems can be solved by the state. Just explaining that the state is not interested in solving our problems, and that only we ourselves can solve our problems, we can encourage people to unite at the grassroots level to independently solve their problems.
Finally, in the fourth, it is simply ineffective. An ordinary person has practically no leverage to influence the state apparatus and its organs so that a law or decision is adopted that is beneficial to an ordinary person, and not the state. Only by uniting in an organized force, ordinary people will be able to force the state to make concessions. But while the faith in the state is still alive in people, they will not be able to unite to independently solve their problems, instead they will turn to the state.
It seems far more likely that a person deprived of power will be able to cooperate with people like him/her, who are as well deprived of power, having the same problems, to solve them independently, than that he/she will be able to put pressure on the state and force it to perform some kind of work.
4.3 Direct action
The key concept in anarchist strategy is direct action. Now the concept of direct action is greatly distorted and is used in any situation. Direct action becomes synonymous with unauthorized action, violence, or even just sticking stickers. Thus, it loses any content. By direct action we mean its original meaning – the citizens’ solution of their problems on their own, bypassing the state, without appeal to him.
That is, the direct action is the self-protection of citizens from bandits, self-repairing the road, forcing the employer to pay wages or changing working conditions, etc. In general, any action taken bypassing the state, during which citizens unite (temporarily or permanently) to solve their problems.
Our task is to find permanent, systemic problems that affect a large number of citizens, and are not resolved once, but constantly arise in society due to prevailing social conditions. By creating permanent structures to deal with such problems, and explaining to people where these problems come from, and that they can only be solved by changing the social system, applying the direct action method and drawing more and more people into it, we thereby fulfill all three tasks that are standing before the anarchist movement.
We are developing an anarchist movement, spreading anarchist ideas and creating long-running grassroots initiatives, during which citizens come together to fight against specific capital – a bandit, employer, fraudster, apartment raider. In the future, with the development of grassroots structures, we must carry out the transition of this activity from the struggle against specific capital to the struggle against capital and the state as a whole.
4.4 Social revolution
A transition to a new structure of society can take place only during the social revolution, during which citizens destroy the old state institutions and organize direct democracy and grassroots self-government. These changes cannot occur “from above”, through reforms and the state apparatus itself, since the state, the bureaucracy and the capitalists are not interested in their abolition, and will defend their power. This also applies to the “revolutionary dictatorship” created by the revolutionaries as a result of the uprising. Such a dictatorship will be interested, first of all, in its own preservation, in the possibility of implementing a policy that seems right for revolutionaries, and not for the population. Therefore, inevitably, the “revolutionary dictatorship” will seek to suppress the organs of direct democracy and create a new state hierarchy.
However, since simultaneous revolutionary action all over the world is impossible, and a new economic system cannot arise in an isolated territory, it can be assumed that any revolutionary changes today will somehow affect, first of all, the political sphere, the creation of a system of direct and electronic democracy. In economic terms, it is impossible to create a communist economy on an isolated territory.
Therefore, to one degree or another, the economy of revolutionary societies today must be market-based, and embedded in the global economy. In this regard, we can only talk about other forms of market economy, such as cooperative ownership. However, even within the framework of direct democracy, any form of market economy will lead to social stratification and the creation of a new form of domination and the state, to curtail direct democracy. Historically, a market economy and social inequality have always led to the degeneration of democracy into an oligarchy, the power of the few richest citizens.
Therefore, such a society should be regarded as transitional, in which the struggle against property stratification and for the expansion of revolutionary democratic transformations to other countries should also continue. In the case, in which the revolution does not spread to other countries, such a society is doomed to the restoration of the state and classical capitalism. In the case of the spread of the revolution to other countries and the creation of a global system, a new, communist revolution may well be required to transition to a new, non-market model of the economy.
4.6 Revolutionary prospects in the post-Soviet territories
Moreover, even such a limited democratic revolution is not the immediate prospect for Russia and the countries of the ex-Soviet territories. In the upcoming mass protests, all that the anarchists can claim is to declare themselves a radical force that is ready to confront the government and wants more than just a change of faces in the offices. Expanding its influence and popularity, attracting radical youth, and gaining the opportunity to more effectively implement its strategy in the future – that’s all the anarchists can claim in their next speeches.
We see how this happens on the example of other mass demonstrations. For example, the Ukrainian Maidan, where the ultra-right proved to be radical and decisive, attracted a large number of young people to the Ukrainian nazis, which allowed them to completely dominate radical politics and create massive and effective structures and projects.
4.7 Organization. Organizational core
In order to be able to speak effectively, anarchists must be an organized force. However, under the conditions of dictatorship, anarchists do not have the opportunity to organize (which in itself would remove the need for an intermediate uprising, “Maidan”), neither in order to create a political infrastructure, nor in order to engage in social projects. Anarchist structure today can only be underground and closed. Any effective open structures will simply be destroyed.
Today we should not strive for mass. Open mass organizations are not needed, not only because of the impossibility of creating them in a dictatorship, but also because of their inefficiency. The organization of anarchists today is not the likeness of a party whose main goal is to get as many participants as possible for show. The organization of anarchists today is the organizational core of the movement, a relatively small team, with a clear theory and strategy, within which each participant is busy with organizational tasks. The organization creates long-running projects, infrastructure, media platforms, develops a strategy in accordance with which it organizes and directs movement, and disseminates certain views and practices in the movement. It sets the vector to which autonomous groups of anarchists join.
Organization is not a matter of membership, but a matter of ongoing participation in projects. Truly effective organizations are not built on bureaucratic formalities, but on joint practice.
4.8 Activist Network
Around this organizational core is an activist network, an organization of a broader level – various groups, collectives and activists, between which coordination is established, and which are able to jointly organize their activities. Members of this network do not participate in projects on an ongoing basis, but are in constant contact with each other, and can join one or another project or one-time event. In the future, in the course of deepening common practice, developing the skills of network participants and reaching consensus on basic ideological issues, various groups merge, informal federations form, or network participants move into the organizational core of the movement.
4.9 Campaigns, engaging new groups
The activist network, in turn, organizes broader campaigns, single actions, which are already joined by fully autonomous groups and activists. In the future, with their systematic participation in activities, it is desirable to establish constant contacts and involvement of autonomous groups in the activist network.
Thus, there is a constant development of movement, both quantitative and qualitative. Development of its infrastructure and projects, creation of new sustainable groups and the emergence of new organizers. Only such a complex, multi-stage and coordinated system can in the long run successfully fulfill the tasks of planning, developing and coordinating the movement and its projects.
4.10 Interaction between organizational centers of movement
Naturally, there can be many organizational cores of a movement. There may be a large number of activist groups organizing and directing the activities of the movement, with different views and strategies.
Unfortunately, often these groups have great ambitions and ego, considering other active anarchists not as allies, but as rivals and competitors. In this case, the activities of groups can be reduced to a struggle with each other, and the positioning of groups itself is built on the opposition to other collectives. In some cases, we even observe that unscrupulous groups seek to take advantage of repressions against competitors and commit acts to which there is no justification. Not to mention the fact that any attempt at criticism and discussion is perceived by such collectives as quite hostile, and their criticism of opponents is unconstructive, with the aim of not criticizing ideas and methods, but denigrating the competitor and self-affirmation.
This situation prevents the organization of a strong movement. We see the need for a different form of interaction between strong groups and projects. Instead of competition between groups, collaboration and discussion should be built.
Differences in views and methods should not cause hostility. Instead, organizing a constructive dialogue, discussion between groups, with constructive mutual criticism is much more rational. Criticism of ideas and methods, and not “raids” against individuals and organizations. Such a dialogue will promote both the development of anarchist theory and strategy, the transfer of successful experience from one group to another, and the establishment of ties between groups.
Cooperation between groups should not be based on some formal associations and the creation of some fictitious “fronts”, “blocs”, “federations”, etc. But based on collaborative practice. Joint organization of campaigns, actions and other events, building a joint infrastructure rally much more reliably than the proclamation of such fictitious “unions”. Over time, we can hope for the unification or creation of real federal organizations from groups that have built up productive joint practice and become closer in their views during the discussion.
4.11 Large movement or autonomous groups
In an anarchist community, one may come across some prejudices about big movements. Larger, more successful movements cause envy and hatred among competing groups, and for individual activists the question is – why do we need a big movement?
We have already described that we see a big movement not as a party type organization, but rather as a network of closely cooperating collectives and groups of activists rallying around them. The need for such an organization is obvious – social activity, in order to be successful, requires the coordinated activity of many people who take on different responsibilities and have different skills. Not a single person or a small group of people can independently carry out all this activity and possess all the necessary skills and knowledge.
Therefore, only with cooperation and coordination between them, with the division of responsibilities and involving them in each other’s projects, it is possible to carry out activities on a large scale and of better quality. Isolated or poorly coordinated groups will remain in this state forever, and will not be able to significantly affect the events taking place in the country.
Therefore, we say that a large movement is a necessity, and the fear of large movements and an attempt to isolate, create one’s own movement from scratch is a harmful and stupid thing. Only by organizing and joining forces can individuals represent a force that can influence society.
4.12 Movement infrastructure, media
At the heart of the infrastructure of any movement today is the media. Media performs a number of important functions.
Firstly, it is the mouthpiece of the movement through which it can convey its views and ideas, make itself known. Through media, the movement performs one of its most important functions – campaigning, disseminating its ideas and attracting new people.
Secondly, it is a platform for unification. A certain audience of readers who agree with the position of the movement gather around the media. This audience is a pretty important medium for fueling the movement.
Thirdly, the media is a project in which different people collaborate with each other and form a certain stable team that distributes responsibilities, learns to work together and develops a common position on important issues that it conveys to its readers.
Fourth, the media is a platform for the expression of other groups of activists. Without their own developed platform, they contact large platforms to post their news or activity reports, as a result of which contacts are established between groups and coordination is established between them.
Media is the cornerstone of a movement. Stable groups of activists and communities are formed around the media platforms, which are then organized into an activist network. For this reason, media platforms should not be party in nature. They should be open to other groups of activists. It is highly desirable that representatives of various groups and groups join the editorial office of large media platforms – in this case, joint work between groups and discussion at a deeper level will be established, and there will be a cohesion of movement around common platforms. This is necessary for the groups themselves to develop their theoretical level and media skills. The sites themselves will represent the points of view of various groups.
4.13 Organization of groups
In each group, there are always more proactive comrades acting as organizers of the team and its activities, and less proactive, satisfied with participation in the actions. The big problem of many anarchist collectives is that they have not learned how to work with it. The organizers can expect equal returns and interest from the rest, and are very disappointed when this does not happen. In the future, such groups break up as soon as the organizer is arrested by the authorities or becomes disillusioned with the activities. Such an organization of the anarchist movement, tied to individual leaders, also seriously limits the possibilities of anarchist activity, since the capabilities of each collective are limited by the organizational capabilities of one or two people.
The primary task of the organizer at this stage is not to organize anarchist projects or other activities. But to create a strong team, with a large number of organizers, which will be able to more efficiently carry out more work than groups with one organizer.
This requires the gradual involvement of the remaining members of the groups in organizational activities. Instruction to the participants of the teams of small assignments in order to identify the most proactive and interested of them. In the future, the assignment of proven ones for more complex tasks, for some parts of the organizational process. And, finally, the independent organization of some actions and events. Then these new organizers can work with new members of the group in the same way, developing organizational skills in them.
The “old” organizers can take up the coordination of new organizers and the creation of specific projects of activity. The main thing is to find a type of activity that would be simple enough for people without special skills, in the course of participation in which group members would develop their organizational abilities.
4.14 Democracy of participation, rights and obligations
Another common problem of anarchists is the irresponsibility of team members. Often, people express some ideas without being prepared to participate in the process of translating the idea into reality. Such people may offer to hold some kind of event or campaign, to engage in some kind of project, but expect that other people will do it. When such people who would realize their ideas are not found, they are offended and disappointed. The inactive anarchists often have the same consumer attitude towards anarchist collectives, to which they have nothing to do. People may be indignant at why these groups are doing what they themselves consider necessary, and not what these inactive “activists” consider necessary. Or they may even pretend to make decisions in other people’s activities only because they also consider themselves anarchists.
Such an attitude to rights and obligations within the movement is unacceptable and should be condemned. In each particular case, only direct participants and organizers, people who themselves are involved in the event or project, have the right to vote. If a person has an idea, or he wants to influence a project, then he must independently engage in translating the idea into reality or join a project that he wants to influence. Similarly, within teams and projects: only their participants have the right to vote on specific shares and areas of activity.
An exception can only be media presenting the position of the movement to the general public. In addition to the editors, all groups whose members engage in this particular media should have the ability to influence the media platform to one degree or another.
Today, we consider actionism, the most simple and effective activity that everyone can do, with activities suitable for developing organizational skills among participants in the movement. Posting leaflets and posters, graffiti and stencils, hanging banners or even street unauthorized events – this is what everyone can do with a little preparation. Therefore, such activity, being easily reproducible, is a good start for beginner groups and a good “organizer school” for anarchists.
For example, an organizer of a group may carry out an agitational raid with other participants in putting up anarchist agitation. Then, you can entrust some part of the organizational process (the production of campaign materials, independent raids, etc.) to other members of the group. Then you can complicate the task, and, for example, make and hang out an anarchist banner. In subsequent repetitions, the rest of the group will be instructed to make the larger part of the process of making the banner and hanging it out. So, in the end, the group members held an action on their own, without the direct participation of the organizer. Repeat further on a more complex type of stock. Etc. Thus, by complicating activities and increasing the proportion of tasks performed by other participants, the organizer initiates the development of organizational skills in them. Ideally, group members should begin to take the initiative and organize actions without the participation of the original organizer. In this case, we can say that actionism has achieved its goals.
Another goal of actionism is to draw attention to certain problems or the movement of anarchists. The most striking actions fall into the mass media, as a result of which a large number of people learn about the movement, and the most passionate of them can join the anarchists. In addition, it is a signal to other groups of anarchists that they are not alone, the movement exists and continues to operate. And actionism shows these groups the method by which they can begin to act, through which they can enter the movement and establish communication with other groups.
The main thing is to understand the tasks of actionism and not to become isolated in this activity, perceiving it as a real struggle. In this case, activists most often experience disappointment when they see that actionism itself has little effect. Therefore, it is necessary to explain from the very beginning the tasks and goals of actionism.
4.16 Radical actions
After going through an actionist school, many groups may feel like radicalizing their actions, making them less symbolic and more radical, or even violent. Loud shocking actions, throwing smoke bombs at administrative buildings, or even pogroms or arson.
Such actions, as a rule, have a much greater response in the media space, attract radical youth, and radicalize the movement itself and its methods, remove the psychological barrier and fear of power in the minds of activists, and also provide additional experience in extreme conditions. On the other hand, such actions provoke a more fierce reaction of the state, and often end in the defeat of groups and the arrests of their participants.
Each group must decide for itself the question of the justification of such methods. It is only necessary to recall that any of our actions should serve the strategic goal of creating a strong movement, and it is necessary to evaluate certain methods based on what results they can give. When conducting radical actions, it is important to observe certain precautions that will help to avoid the detention of activists and the defeat of their group. You can familiarize yourself with these recommendations in more detail here: naroborona.info
4.17 Political violence
The basis of politics is violence. It is precisely the ability to crush your opponent that is the basis of political dominance. This concerns both “big politics”, where the power of the state and “legality” is ensured by its ability to suppress its opponents and force them to subordinate, as well as the more marginal “street politics”. It is a question of both the struggle between the movements and the protest activity.
In the end, any protest can claim success only if it is willing to resort to violence. Is it about revolution, rebellion, revolt, where people oppose state violence with their own violence, and seek to correct injustice by force. Or if we are talking about local social movements. In the struggle against point building, deforestation, and the fight against raiders, everywhere we see that the outcome depends on the possibility of successful use of violence (demolition of the fence and construction site, resistance to violence by bandits or private security, physical suppression of construction workers, etc.). Without a willingness to confront the violence of the police, criminals or hired structures, without a willingness to force physically wretches to suspend their activities, there can be no talk of success. In Russia and the world, we see that the protest is everywhere related to violence – whether it is about the Yellow Vests movement in France or the fight against the construction of a landfill or cutting down a park in Russia.
But willingness to violence alone is not enough. The most effective violence is organized violence. In local conflicts, it can be successfully used by a small cohesive group. On a broader scale, necessary for political dominance, the demolition of the old society, and opposition to the authorities, there is a need for a massive organized violence which can withstand organized violence by authorities. Only an organized movement can apply such violence. Therefore, the question of revolution, in many respects, is the question of creating an organized movement of anarchists and an organized movement of grassroots civic initiatives.
One of the tasks of local groups is to develop their own ability to use local organized violence. That is, increasing the number and physical and psychological preparation of the group members. This includes both sports and the removal of the psychological barrier to the use of violence (including using weapons). Important in this matter is the acquisition of practical experience that can be gained in confrontation with bandits, raiders or political opponents.
Although violence is a major policy issue, we do not consider it appropriate to use violence against all political opponents of anarchism. We should strive to establish dialogue and discussion with those opponents who are ready for it. However, if the movement cannot influence other movements (by violence, media, or other methods) in the event of a conflict, if the movement is defenseless, then no one will reckon with it, and no one will build a respectful dialogue with a weak opponent that can be ignored. This includes the issue of not only violence, but also the resources of the movement, including media.
In the end, violence can and should be used against those opponents who are trying to actively fight the anarchist movement, not by criticism and discussion, but by violence, or disruption of events, attempts to isolate the movement, and so on. First of all, we are talking about ultra-right movements that willingly use violence against opponents, and are ready to abandon it only under the threat of retaliatory violence. Everywhere, the ultra-right are trying to achieve political dominance precisely by forcibly suppressing opponents. And therefore, violence against the ultra-right is both a good training for the anarchists and a vital necessity, since otherwise the ultra-right will not allow the movement to develop.
All the same applies to all movements that take active action against the anarchist movement.
4.18 Social projects
A more complex form of anarchist activity is social projects, such as the fight against unscrupulous employers, scammers, apartment raiders, etc. For people with no experience in organizing and collective action, organizing such projects is usually quite difficult. Therefore, we recommend that you first go through the stage of actionism in order to develop organizational skills and create a strong group.
The essence of social projects is to create ongoing initiatives to combat specific vices of modern society. Such activity creates a positive image for the anarchists and attracts indifferent passionate youth into their ranks, who sincerely resent the specific ulcers of society, or want action. In addition, anarchists get the opportunity to work directly with people who are in a difficult situation.
In the course of such an activity, anarchists convey to both of these categories the methods of direct action and grassroots self-organization and the idea of anarchism, explaining that their particular problem has roots in the modern structure of society. It is of fundamental importance that such an activity be consistent with the basic anarchist principles of direct action and anti-reformism, for the reasons stated in the relevant paragraphs. For greater effectiveness, it is advisable to create resources for such projects on the Internet that can better disseminate information about the activities of the group, and serve as a feedback tool for those wishing to join the activity or seek help.
Social projects make it possible to bring the movement and its image to a new level, however, under dictatorship, public activity is complicated by persecution and repression by the state. Therefore, the issue of conspiracy of activity is extremely important.
4.19 Social Conflicts
Another important area of activity should be participation in mass social conflicts, such as the fight against point buildings, deforestation and parks, etc.
It is important to understand what we want to achieve by participating in such conflicts. If there is no organized movement and group in place, participation on an individual basis can only serve to gain personal experience. If the group is not sufficiently developed and organized, participation in such conflicts can also attract the attention of the authorities ahead of time, while participation in the protest of such a group will not lead to any significant results either for the protest itself or for the activist group.
Unfortunately, often the anarchists are satisfied with the role of passive participants or, at best, attendants and “errand boys” for protest leaders. Naturally, as a result, such groups do not achieve anything, nothing changes in society, and there comes disillusionment and awareness of the meaninglessness of engaging in such activities.
For this, we need an organization, as we described above – for the opportunity to influence, to conduct our own campaigning of ideas and methods in protests. Isolated activists and small groups will not achieve this. It makes sense to join such protests only when there is a large organized movement that can really do something at the scene of the conflict, share experience with the protesters, and correctly explain to them the essence of their ideas. If you do not have such a strong group, then it is more rational to initially be satisfied with the holding of campaigns and campaigns in support of the protesters, in order to disseminate information about their problem and the movement of the anarchists.
Any protest activity, in whatever form it takes place and how “legitimate” it can be, in the case of its effectiveness will inevitably face reprressions. For many anarchists, repression comes as a surprise and forces them to surrender and stop any activity. To prevent this from happening, it is important from the very beginning to tell people that they may face reprisals.
It should be understood that the methods by which the state will act in the fight against anarchists are far from “legitimate”. Intelligence agencies willingly use torture in the fight against dissidents. For some people who perceive anarchism as a party, the fact of repression and torture is sufficient to cooperate with the investigation, surrender all their comrades or justify such behavior by other people. However, justifying this behavior, we make it normative and ourselves push the participants in the movement to do so in the future. Therefore, the attitude towards repression and cooperation with the police and special services is extremely important.
Repression should be perceived as an inevitable condition for engaging in political activity in the countries of the former USSR, and people should be mentally prepared for this. Cooperation with the investigation should be condemned and reproached, and evidence against other people should be completely unacceptable.
Awareness of the inevitability of repression obliges each activist to familiarize himself with the rules of conduct during interrogations and other contacts with law enforcement agencies, as well as compliance with the rules of conspiracy and information security.
Every activist should strive to avoid identification by the authorities. This means, first of all, the rules of digital security. Accounts on social networks and instant messengers that are used for activist purposes or simply for subscribing to anarchist resources should not contain any personal information of a person – photos, full name, city, circle of acquaintances, etc. They should not be registered to the phone number or mail associated with the activist. Any use of “activist” accounts must go through TOR and / or VPN.
Accounts used in everyday life should not be associated with politics.
Also, conspiracy means that the forms of activity of activists should preserve their anonymity. Attending public events, authorized rallies, etc., do not have any positive result, but they lead to the identification of the activist by intelligence officers and their inclusion in the lists of anarchists and potential extremists. Therefore, today it is necessary to refuse such forms of activity.
During any event, you need to strive to maintain anonymity. For example, when conducting promotions, you need to pay attention to the location of the surveillance cameras. When publishing reports on shares, you need to make sure that on the photo / video you can not see the face, tattoos, any elements by which the activist can be identified. It’s not worthwhile to hold campaigns with the phones turned on or discuss them over the phone or through insecure communication channels (VKontakte, open chats, etc.).
You should not report on your activities to people who are not involved in it. We also advise you not to use your real name in activist circles, and to get in touch with people only after prolonged online communication with them and full confidence that they are not provocateurs. In general, the study of articles on information and activist security is an important condition for anarchist activity.
4.22 Training of participants in the movement
The basis of the anarchist movement were and are primarily members of the movement. Therefore, the development of participants is a priority for the entire movement. The more anarchists can do separately, the more complex and complex tasks the movement will be able to realize. Therefore, it is important for the anarchist to acquire new skills himself and teach others the well-known skills.
We talked about the development of conspiracy, physical fitness and organization skills in the previous paragraphs. In addition, for the participants in the movement, the issue of studying and developing anarchist theory is important. If the activist has extremely vague ideas about the world, the principles of the economy, and utopian and infantile ideas about anarchist society and the means to achieve it, then sooner or later he will be disappointed in anarchism, discovering that his ideas about the world are not true. Therefore, it is extremely important for each participant in the movement to receive a theoretical development. Both in terms of general anarchist theory, and economics, history, analysis of social processes, etc. In addition, having a very vague knowledge of theory, the activist will not be able to competently campaign his ideas.
Theoretical development is inextricably linked to the ongoing discussion within the movement. It is very desirable that people from each group be involved in anarchist media, writing articles and news – this also contributes to theoretical development, discussion and gives media work skills.
In addition, it is important to master more specialized skills that can be useful when creating campaign materials, media resources, etc. One person cannot master all these skills and engage in all this activity. For this, it is very important to divide the specialties between group members and different groups.
The participant’s possession of some specific skill should not create the foundation for the power of this person in the spirit of “we will do it because only I can do it, and I want it that way”. Decisions must be made by the team, and the team should not depend on one participant and his skills. Therefore, it is important that team members share their skills with each other, teach each other their skills, and that several team members can complete a specialty.
4.23 Evolution and revolution
Just as it is impossible to come to a new society through reforms, it is impossible to achieve it through an “evolutionary” way by simply enlightening the people and creating “autonomous spaces” “excluded” from capitalist society, or by spreading a certain “new culture” in society.
4.24 Education and agitation
Without denying the importance of agitation and theoretical work, one should not expect that a group of enthusiasts will be able to disseminate their ideas in society more efficiently than the state and corporations with their huge propaganda machines, remaining in the media field alone. It should also be noted that the mere dissemination of ideas is not enough for their victory. To bring ideas to life, their supporters need to organize themselves into the force that can defeat the organized power of the state and capital and organize society on a new basis. In addition, it seems extremely doubtful that people’s consciousness will be able to change in the right direction on the basis of lectures, articles and countercultural events alone, without a long experience of self-organization in a collective struggle.
Human consciousness, his personality and character depend on experience, environment and everyday life. If a person’s “revolutionary activity” is limited to attending lectures, concerts, and “educational events,” this will not revolutionize a person at all, but rather the opposite — a comfortable countercultural environment will be created, a party in which a person can spend time and feel comfortable. Having become accustomed to such an environment, a person is most likely not going to put himself at risk and engage in activities that could be dangerous for him. It is also doubtful that in such an environment a structure will be able to efficiently organize radical street activities. Such an environment may be favorable for the emergence of cadres for the revolutionary movement, interested in something more than talkative. The mere bet on “enlightenment” to change the world does not justify itself.
Campaigning and educational work are needed to attract people to the ideas of anarchism, and to raise the theoretical level of activists. But this is only one of many areas of work – necessary, but incapable of changing the world on its own without vigorous action and organization of the anarchists and all the oppressed in the common struggle.
4.25 New culture
All the same can be said about attempts to create a kind of “new culture” that carries libertarian ideas into society. The nature of a person and his culture are determined, first of all, by the structure of society, which requires him to have a certain economic activity and model of behavior just so that he survives. And it is precisely the requirements presented by these conditions that will be considered normal and natural in any society; they will form the character and ideas of a person. If a person is convinced of values that simply contradict the model of behavior necessary for survival, then these values will either be rejected or acquired only at the level of phraseology and slogans. We see that the advocates of the “new culture” are often able to rationalize and justify the most vile and inconsistent acts with references to “ethics”.
At the same time, it must be recognized that through culture it is indeed possible to convey certain ideas to people, although not at all on the scale as it appears to the champions of the “new culture”. We see that successful cultural projects and figures with a large audience can successfully convey their own agitation to them. Music groups, journalists, video bloggers, recognized intellectuals in the information society have no less weight than the “traditional” means of agitation. Therefore, anarchists also need to work in these areas for more successful propaganda. But, again, agitation is only one of the areas of activity. By themselves, without political organization and a planned strategy, they are not able to change the world. The struggle in the cultural field cannot “educate a new person”, but it can create an environment susceptible to anarchist agitation.
4.26 Autonomous spaces
Often, the idea of peaceful “competition” with capitalist and state society is proposed as a strategy for changing the world, in which the anarchists would create their own enterprises and settlements based on libertarian principles and show people that they can live differently.
Unfortunately, proponents of the approach completely ignore either the principles of the economy or historical experience. In history there have been a huge number of such attempts involving millions of people. The failure of such a strategy and its criticism formed anarchism with its idea of the need for grassroots organization and social revolution.
Any attempts at the peaceful destruction of the state and capitalism are faced with repressive bodies – the police, the army, bandits and mercenaries. Where such attempts can pose a threat to those in power, they are suppressed by armed force.
As mentioned above, it is not enough just to spread ideas, it is necessary to organize and confront the state.
Another problem is the global nature of the economy. Small isolated communes and cooperatives cannot exist outside the global economy, which is capitalist in nature. They are forced to either isolate themselves from the world economy, and find themselves at the level of a primitive society, or integrate into a market economy and accept the capitalist logic in their functioning.
In addition, it should be noted that all attempts to “squeeze out” the capitalist economy as a cooperative economy eventually turned out to be the incorporation of cooperatives into global capitalism. Many international corporations are precisely cooperatives in their structure. Historically, all successful cooperatives and communes eventually reorganized on a capitalist basis. Today, the economy of Western countries is largely cooperative, cooperatives can control entire sectors of the economy. All over the world cooperatives consist about a billion people. However, this have not destroyed capitalism in any way; cooperatives in the principles of work do not differ from other capitalist enterprises.
At the same time, such “autonomous spaces” can provide movement with the necessary infrastructure – money, premises, cultural space, etc. But this is only one of the tools for building the movement, it is not an independent method of changing the world, and without connection with political movements it makes no sense.
4.27 Armed underground or political movement
Another extreme is the idea of preparing for armed struggle, during which it is proposed to withdraw from political public activity and engage in military training.
The problem here is that anarchists constitute the overwhelming minority in modern society, and 10-50-100 people, even being perfectly prepared and trained, will not be able to have a significant impact on events in the case of a revolution. The Nazis, who are much more in numbers, are also training. And they will have a quantitative advantage. Not to mention the millions of cops, the military, special services and special forces, which have much better training, weapons and more.
Training in itself is useful and necessary for movement. Another thing is that having abandoned political activity, the anarchists also refuse to disseminate their ideas and expand their ranks, which means that they put themselves in a losing position and an absolute minority in advance.