Angry Workers of the World: for working class inquiry
Below you can find some basic ideas in a very condensed form. For more general thoughts on the current system and how the working class can create a better society, please read our ‘system series’:
1. The current system is based on classes. The producers don’t own their means of production and products, they don’t decide how and what for production takes place. Production takes place to create profit and to maintain the resulting division into rich and poor, rulers and ruled. The struggle against the class system is ongoing and has many forms. It is the main social force of change.
2. The current system has a contradiction that allows us to think about a better society. The achieved rate of productivity is high, meaning, only a minority of people actually work to produce food, homes, necessary items and services. This productivity and social knowledge would allow everyone to live a good life. It would allow us to minimise time spent on producing necessary goods and to decide about production and life on a wider social and non-hierarchical scale. BUT due to its class nature the system employs people only if production is profitable and uses labour-saving technology to reduce the number of people employed. This creates unemployment. More unemployment means more competition amongst workers which in turn means lower wages. The result is an increase of relative poverty despite an increase of social productivity. The system has to waste time and energy on producing things only necessary in a class society (private security, prisons, arms, elite education etc.). It creates unnecessary labour as a result of bad coordination (companies or departments are only interested in their individual gains) and hierarchical burocratic structures.
3. Due to its limited goal and internal conflict – the separation of the producers from the means and command of production – the system creates frequent situations of economic crisis. During these crises production facilities are left unused despite of social need. There is too much, rather than too little, but the overproduced items and facilities can’t be sold or used to make profit. An increase of national strife and wars have been historic outcomes of these crises and the only way to solve them. Another main crisis created by the system is lasting environmental damage. Without getting rid of the class structure of society, the above mentioned crises cannot be avoided. This poses a structural limit to reformism.
4. The main power of the system lies in the fact that producers can only come together and produce under the system’s command, e.g. only big corporations bring together workers in a global supply chain. This means that although production depends on the work of millions of workers, it seems as if the corporations were the source of production. The production process is structured in a way which keeps individual workers or group of workers separated and in a hierarchy, e.g. between manual and intellectual workers. The creative capacities of billions of people is wasted on repetitive useless jobs. By maintaining the divisions between domestic work and social production and between developed and underdeveloped regions the system reproduces the divisions between men and women and divisions along ethnic lines.
5. The second power lies in the state. The state guarantees that the working class remains separated from the means of production and from the products by two main means: a) threatening those with violence who challenge the current property relations and b) using its legal and political arenas to integrate and/or individualise social disputes, e.g. through the courts or the parliament. Operating within the legal structure of the nation state, political parties and trade unions are prone to channel class disputes into legal or parliamentary alleys. This reenforces passivity and illusions amongst workers.
6. While the potential for a class-less society ‘based on the free association of producers’ is objectively given, it depends on the global working class to emancipate itself and create the material basis for a new society. In order to challenge the main pillars of power of the current system mentioned above this process of emancipation will necessarily have to have certain features: a) workers will have to overcome the separations that the current social production process imposes on them, meaning, the separation into companies, professions, domestic and public sphere, national boundaries and, most importantly, the division between those who command and those who follow; hierarchies within the working class will have to be challenged from below, mere appeals for unity are idealistic b) workers will have to appropriate the means of production, collectivise knowledge and develop new forms of collective decision making on a local and global scale; on this basis wage labour and money relations can be abolished c) workers will have to confront and overcome the violent forces the state controls to maintain the current order and property relations.
7. Revolutionary process is therefore both a material struggle of power about day to day issues (about wages or housing, against harassment) and a learning process on a global scale. Workers have to learn to lead their own struggles and to overcome boundaries set by management and the state. Any forms of organisation that do not aim at self-organisation and activity of workers, but keep the command separate from them cannot be revolutionary – so are organisations that reenforce divisions e.g. based on professions or nationalities.
8. To support this material and learning process we start by asking workers about their experiences and by trying to understand the wider structure and divisions their struggle takes place in. Based on this we try to develop forms of organisation together: how to exercise power against the bosses most effectively, how to get the biggest number of workers involved in the process and how to reach out to other workers in similar situations. We openly debate current and historical experiences of working class struggle and thereby hope to function as a point of attraction for other revolutionary workers locally and globally. We work towards a global organisation that can support working class struggle and emancipation materially and strategically.
There’s a lot of people out there despairing – hoping for struggles for a better world, but feeling isolated and unsure of where to focus their political action. We think we have to dig in and reach out, grow roots and branches, mix and mingle in the daily grind, while keeping a hot heart and cool head, looking forward…
* The tension between what society could be like and the ruling reality of divide-and-rule is gonna increase and kill. There won’t be no soft cushions, no popular short-cuts – the crisis won’t be voted away. It’s working class self-defence and organisation from now on.
* Large parts of the current ‘revolutionary’ left have no roots. We are caught in a cycle of reactions. We debate revolution in a bubble, while bumping our heads against single issues. The latest campaign. We’ve got no class and think that’s cool.
* We can’t just ‘start where we are’, we have to move our ass. It’s only a few of us, we have to be where it’s at. For us that’s where working class people come together, day-to-day, and face capital and each other. Big workplaces are central, neighbourhoods are not irrelevant.
* Dig in, get a job and learn. Or go to new places and ask. Discover how people organise and why they don’t. Slowly help build structures. Our SolNet is getting off the ground. We meet weekly, at McDonalds, in an Indian tea house, in the 24h Asda cafe. Form small gangs at work.
* Keep all this together in a regular publication for the area – this is central! Become a mirror for the class, help to look ahead. Forget about Twitter, create working class papers. Pick up the small stories of resistance from the packaging department, write about our wish and reasoning to fight for a classless society.
* Let’s share these experiences and link up. Forget about the shiny surface of organisations, let’s be open and share what works and what doesn’t.
What does that mean?
* We aren’t calling for a new organisation, but for a new political practice and coordination.
* As an individual or a group: analyse your local working class surroundings. Look for concentrations, conflicts, current divisions. In these days, low-waged jobs, employing many migrant workers at central points of exploitation will be decisive locations. But there are others. Let’s share reports of what we find.
* Settle down. Start small, but start. Workplace groups and solidarity networks in the territory are starting points. From there we can learn. Let’s share regular reports, about flops and all.
* We can work on the newspapers together. Circulate workplace reports from the same industries or companies, but different regions. Share research on the plans of the pigs and the global connections of our class. Discuss editorials on working class nationalism and its dead-ends, on the pitfalls of working class family life.
We will need this rooting process, headless chickens will get eaten. The days after the election will be a big come-down, either way. Historical lessons and positions for a fundamental social transformation can’t just be poured into the working class. Or screened into it on YouTube channels. These positions have to be lived and fought over within the class. We want to link up with comrades who think similarly. We want to document this process centrally and self-critically – as a coordination of working class initiatives. We want to meet face-to-face in future.
If you are up for it, get in touch.