Anarchist Materialism: Can we start having a revolutionary labor strategy?

From Anarchist Materialism

Disclaimer: This piece is designed to challenge some prevailing attitudes of Class Struggle Anarchists in the US. The arguments should not be seen as a critique of individual behavior but rather of structural tendencies which hopefully will produce a constructive discussion.

 

It should be apparent to anyone viewing the labor movement in the US that it has arrived at a turning point. Despite economic stagnation and a reduction in comparative household wages, business unions are in a weaker position than they have been in almost 100 years. Meanwhile there seems to be a lack of discussion about how radical labor militants can seize this opportunity to become relevant… much less win. If we want a revolutionary change in economic and social structures, then it is necessary to build the power and capacity that can actually achieve it.

However, in order to build power, we must first determine where power lies. One such way is to map out economic and community structures and find out where anarchist militants can be the most useful. In labor organizing it is vital to understand the demographics and profit generation of specific industries, capital investment, percentage of GDP, modes of production (the manner and relationships of production), transportation choke points, and important utilities (such as power companies) just to name a few.

From there it is important to develop and prioritize a strategic orientation. What are the stages that the US needs to go through in order to actually overthrow the system? First the current period should be thought out. What are the current realities both in terms of where our strengths are and that of the rest of the left and working class, as well as our opponents? Is capital in advance or retreat? Are we in a moment of structural reorganization and if so, where in the country? Manufacturing may be shrinking in the Midwest but retooling in the Southwest and growing in the Southeast. There could be increasing mechanization in the ports, but also expansion to keep up with growing population demand. Food production may be shifting in scale, labor, and products as it becomes industrialized or shifts to accommodate trade agreements. But this must be researched to determine the exact material conditions that exist. Only then can we decide how to begin social insertion and develop mature national strategies.

Next, militants need to figure out realistic long term goals. Are we aiming for collectivization of industries? If so, then which ones would be the most necessary to focus on now and how will this actually be achieved? After the Spanish Revolution began in 1936 and the 1.6 million member Anarchist-Syndicalist Union (CNT) began the most widespread anarchist economic experiments in history, they only collectivized industries with:

  • over 100 workers
  • between 50-100 workers if 3/4ths voted for it
  • Under 50 if a majority and the boss voted for it
  • Workplaces of the most extreme strategic importance to the national economy

Of course we want all workers to be organized and have collectivized workplaces for everyone who wants it, but we cannot be utopian about revolutionary processes. There needs to be a new economy to replace the old one and there needs to be production, access to raw materials, and transportation as well as ideological and organizational structures placed over these modes. It is doubtful that a revolution could succeed without organization in these sectors and definitely could not sustain itself later. If we are going to focus on building our capacity, it follows that it should be in the most important industries. How is Starbucks or Jimmy Johns going to be a vital part of the new economy (or even a chokepoint in the current one)? This is not to say that people working there already shouldn’t be encouraged to organize, but as social/organized anarchists, we need to have a strategic orientation that will help us achieve our goals.

For example, if you want to organize at the chokepoints of capital flows—labor militants should get jobs in ports, rail container facilities, distribution centers, military and other strategic manufacturing, port truckers and light rail freight, general rail freight, natural resource extraction (oil, mining, etc), or maybe universities or healthcare centers. It all depends on what the organizational orientation is and what facts show is the most strategic geographically and on a wider scale. There should also be attempts at including locations that have queer workers, domestic workers, and others that aren’t predominantly (cis) male in the category of “strategic industries”.

From my experience in workplace organizing, I have come to the conclusion that under most circumstances, we should prioritize workplaces over 50 workers. According to the Sojourner Truth Organization, a Chicago based communist org that operated in “industrial concentration” (at the point of production) from 1969-85, workplaces with less than 50 workers often cannot afford the costs of having a union. They wrote that it is much cheaper to completely rehire the workforce or to move to a new location. Furthermore, if we are attempting to build a militant labor movement, then scale is important. How is a 5 person shift walkout or strike going to have an impact when much of the organizing needs to come from outside. Instead, think about a larger workforce who can take on the tasks themselves. They can have workers (or their family members) collecting for the strike fund at high trafficked areas, maintaining pickets or even blockades during all business hours (rather than select vigils or protests), set up strike camps, and collectively produce and distribute propaganda. If some or all of these activities are engaged by an outside union (such as the IWW), there is no growth of experience and worker capacity. Furthermore, there is no substantial effect on either capital or sectors of the working class.

To build an effective labor campaign in such workplaces, it will probably be necessary to always have two or more salts (a person who gets a job with the intention of unionizing) per workplace and at least one salt for every 50 workers. As anybody who has attempted to organize a workplace by themselves knows, it can be very isolating and discouraging. Even forming a small committee or finding one or two co-workers to start things can take time. Working as a team allows multiple shifts and workplace areas to be covered as well as providing useful feedback, cooperation, and a sense of forward movement. The sense of momentum and cooperation also gives confidence to both the salts and their co-workers who may be hesitant to risk their employment. From there it is important to map out the workplace (both the coworkers and the material conditions, assets, and limitations). Then plan an escalation strategy with metrics that is multiple steps ahead. If you aren’t moving forward, you will soon be moving backward.

For larger organization, it is important to set up jobs committees to help with resume building, job searching, interview questions, and recommendations. These committees should develop workers for insertion into strategic industries. Further activities include funding certifications (forklift, truck driving, TWIC cards, etc) and trade school classes in important jobs. One tactic for padding resumes is to find “dead factories” or work locations that are no longer operating to fill in work gaps and provide experience. Once some militants are able to get into targeted workplaces and industries, they will be able to help bring other people in and can mentor new people in unfamiliar jobs.

In order to accomplish such a strategic overhaul, the left in the US needs to move away from activist organizing towards long term work. Building power will require militants to choose sectors of importance and to stay involved in them in ways which build capacity in the rank and file. This is in very sharp contrast to the concept of activists which only organize people towards campaigns. Anarchist or Revolutionary labor strategies cannot focus only on wage increases and reforms as they will fail to achieve the structural change that we envision. That being said, wage and benefit increases can act as a gateway to radicalizing the rank and file. For this to be effective it is necessary to talk politics with co-workers. The problems on the job and the empowerment of collective action can further the argument for class consciousness, worker self- management, and other tenets of anarchism. In having these discussions, it is more important that workers act like anarchists than that they call themselves anarchists, but it is important to discuss the ideas behind anarchist thought, particularly if it relates to their actual lives. Doing so in a respectful and understanding manner is the best way to build trust and respect with co-workers, which is the key to cooperation. Such trust will also allow more gradual discussions on sexism, racism, and homophobia with co-workers. This long term agitation can be quite a commitment and thus should be focused in strategic ways.

Unfortunately, capacity building can be stymied by the existence of anarchist bureaucrats in the labor movement. As anarchists, we often envision a self-managed society from the bottom up that relies on the politicization, experience, and collective action of the workers and community members at the base. The problem with union staff is it does not encourage a rank and file strategy. At best it siphons away many experienced and devoted militants into working in the very business union bureaucracy we are combatting. At worst, it waters down politics in the IWW, and leads to business union modes of thinking and operating, while turning Wobblies (members of the IWW) and libertarian labor militants into shock troops for business union campaigns. Some have stated that this creates, “invaluable experience of union work” which cannot be obtained elsewhere. While there are plenty of cases of anarchists “learning the trade” through salt campaigns or as researchers for unions, this often comes at the expense of long term rank and file organizing and building the anarchist labor movement. Is there any evidence that this experience goes into developing rank and file work later? How many SEIU or Unite Here staffers go on to salt and build rank and file unions and caucuses after leaving? These are questions that must be asked and looked at honestly if we are to succeed.

In addition to paid union staffers, there are many anarchists who have taken union officer positions. These range from shop stewards to presidents of locals. This can have both pros and cons which need to be carefully fleshed out for their strategic orientation and the effect it has on the anarchist labor movement in the US. First the potential benefits:

Anarchists who have gained these positions due to rank and file surges within unions with more democratic structures can use these positions to increase democratic activity and combative action within their unions. They can also turn the unions into educational vehicles of struggle which can produce experienced anarchist militants. To do this, it would be necessary to use the positions to prepare and support the development of rank and file workplace organization. If not, elected anarchist officers (even those receiving substantial votes and support of the rank and file) risk turning into bureaucrats.

When positions are used poorly, Anarchist bureaucrats have called for strikes with short notice, with little rank and file feedback, and with little preparation. They have looked at board meetings as key decision making spaces rather than trying to develop shop floor democracy. Some get embroiled in negotiating committees, centralize knowledge, and waste time that can be spent helping the rank and file develop towards wider and more sustainable action. Democratizing the labor movement cannot just be called for and hoped to fall from the sky. It must be built and that means spending more time engaging the rank and file than participating in internal meetings. Radical slogans and symbolic arrests are no substitution for large scale militant participatory direct action.

So what is the alternative? We have to have rank and file workers to build capacity in the working class. While this seems obvious, it is currently very rare. We have far too many Anarchists who go to graduate school and then become stuck (owing to the pressures of academic work and debt) and isolated from the working class. Or they try to obtain jobs in NGOs and again become part of bureaucratic structures and demobilizing institutions. This is not to say that researchers and academics have no place in the labor movement. Statistics and mapping of actual material conditions are necessary to figure out strategy and tactics, but the most important work will be engaged by rank and file workers in their workplaces. While it can be possible to build relationships with workers in nearby industries, these will never be as strong as bonds forged through common work experiences and solidarity.

If one is fortunate enough to avoid such work, then it is a hard sell to devote years to working in these industries. There are very real economic pressures facing those in working class jobs. There is low pay, very few benefits, inflexible and changing schedules, and often mind numbing manual labor. However, the vast majority of working class people don’t have a choice. The concept of the American Dream rings hollow as real social mobilization is statistically unfounded. As a result, the only way to improve living conditions and to improve the lot of the working class is to build rank and file labor power at work.

 

In Summary:

  • Research the current material conditions
  • Describe the current period and what escalating features would result in more developed periods for the anarchist movement.
  • Plan a strategy that takes into account strategic industries which can develop revolutionary conditions, defend the revolution, and later can be useful in a post capitalist economy
  • Target workplaces that fit into the broader strategy, while being flexible
  • Build rank and file capacity rather than bureaucracy
  • Provide multiple salts per workplace
  • Encourage political discussions at work that are tied into workplace actions and conditions
  • Develop jobs committees which will act as the mechanism for insertion into strategic industries
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Comments

I find the content of this article to be boring, therefore it's premise is invalid.

The article alleges that the American dream "rings hollow", but what would the prefer? A fulfillment of the American dream? Is that really where we are now as anarchists--we want to be better patriots, democrats, than our enemies, who are just full of empty promises? The only hollow rings I think we should concern ourselves with are the hollow hammer rings which are on the ears of butt shaped poodle dogs. It's like my man Liam Sononovich of the IEF always says, "The abolition of the abolition of the abolition of the working class must be a subjectivity production which is neither coming or going(went), but dislodges the binary that is situated precisely at the juncture of linear time. What I mean here is of course nothing less than the total war on the totalizing war on end times and the ending of time totally."

liberal

Please read this as comradely criticism from someone who is passionately invested in the same struggle you are: your entire framework is obsolete.

Today, the kind of struggle that will challenge capitalism, rather than [at best] reforming it, is bound to come from the more and more precarious sectors–from outside specific, stable, unionized workplaces, in other words. That’s because there are more and more people forced to careen from one workplace to another, and because this is the situation in which it becomes most obvious and most pressing that capitalism is totally dysfunctional.

Where have the most notable eruptions of protest occurred around the world in the past decade? Certainly not from workplace struggles. People come together in the plazas and squares, for instance, because they don’t have steady places in the economy from which to initiate struggle together–because they don’t have solid ground under their feet. The one thing they have in common is their increasingly coerced mobility and flexibility, and that is why (treating the internet as the new global factory floor that it is) they begin from outside the workplace. If you miss the importance of the eruptions of struggle that are taking place right now beginning from this source (which are even toppling governments, for good or for ill), you’ll be trying to organize in the wrong century.

Globalization already outflanked everything you’re describing. Start from where you are and what you know–what is materially around you–not from the books you read about another era of capitalism.

A single example, about the “choke points” of capitalism. Compare the general strike in Oakland in 1946 (the last one in the US) to the “general strike” in Oakland in 2011, when the ports were blockaded. In 2011, the only reason the port workers were even able to go on strike that day at all was because they were able to claim, legally, that they were in a dangerous situation, owing to the thousands of people off the clock who were blockading. You don’t need a strong union to block the choke points. You need a powerful movement among the marginalized and vulnerable, a la the piqueteros in Argentina.

The events in Oakland were a sign of things to come. If you want your organizing to keep abreast of history, start with the people in the street, not the few workplaces that are still stable enough to unionize at all.

A good succint reply. I was bummed upon reading the original article - maybe i falsely hope for an actually intelligent anarchist materialism? The title is misleading - noone with a half decent materialist analysis would consider the categories of "the left" or even a singular "working class" as their starting point, as does this article. And the understanding of union bureaucrats is bizarre- like they havent digested a single lesson since 1936 (really starting with 1937, when the CNT joined the government...)

And the idea that we immediately "need an economy to replace the old one" ? The "common sense" tone of this classic position belies its actually origins, which among others is in the group of thirty, a conservative, non anarchist faction within the CNT that argued for a structured, economic blueprint of various industries prior to the revolution, as well as rejecting the pistolerismo and more nihilist (a focus on making the rev rather than inventing new structures) parts of the FAI. The group of 30 lost the debate though, in large part due to opposition by Durruti - they were only let back in right before july 36, disasterously so, as they pushed hard to join the government and distance the CNT from "anarchist purists."

History has proven this trajectory very, very wrong, and its a bummer to see contemporaries who feel it necessary to have a political reenactment society pick and choose the most conservative aspect of their own history, who fell so clearly on the wrong side, as something to emulate. If one feels the need to have a neverending makeoutparty with revolutionary spain, then they should at least digest the lessons of its varied illegalist, pistolero, spontaneous, non industrial, and nihilist origins, all of which challenged the simplistic syndicalist rearview that authors like this now have.

Yeah real anarchists revolutionaries tie brass wire around train tracks and drop banners with Sean Swain quotes on them. Anarcho-syndicalists are soo out of touch, don't they understand that the real revolutionary agent in society are google buses?

So, without a new economy to replace the old one, where are people going to get food after this wonderful revolution of yours?

Eating all the men made of straw!

Straw is so civ.

This is a silly strawman, as you well know. People arent going to stop growing food, transporting needed supplies, caring for the sick and elderly, providing medical treatment, or any number of other general activities that are actually necessary but that we currently refer to as "the economy" in the midst of or immediately after a social revolution.

The point being made is that focusing ahead of time on building the new (economic) world in the shell of the old, long before any kind of meaningful social rupture even occurs, is:

1) an erroneous approach, for common sense reasons that we actually have very very little idea of who various kinds of overlapping anarchist societies and communities will or should look like, due to a huge number of factors; given that reality, its best to generally trust those people to figure those things out in real time, given the needs of the moment and place, whch might vary tremendously depending on things like supply shortages, ecological crises, and basic labor that once people are actually free, they will straight up refuse to do, no matter how necessary it is to an industrial economy (think: mining!).

2.) This approach, whereby we attempt to come up with somekind of preconcieved blueprint for the (inevitably it is industrial, it seems) economy of post rev anarchist future has the very very real danger of simply reformulating the current world, labor, and industry all over again, merely in a new format. I dont want an anarchist workplace with anarchist managers and anarchist factories. I want none of those things. Besides that personal tangent, the fact is that ALL of our imaginations are currently warped by this current society, by not being able to see beyond its horizon. The best kind of "economy" we could imagine now will probably still look and feel disturbingly like this one. This touches on the classical spanish critique the FAI had of the Group of 30, it also equally touches on the obvious garbage vision of Parecon, and likewise it relates to a number of green anarchist critiques, which correctly point to the ecological danger of simply reifying industrialism under a new banner.

3.) By no real coincidence, it almost seems to be the most conservative actors who are invested in structural questions of reinventing a new economy as soon as any kind of rupture takes place. Im not necessarily saying these people cant be comrades, but im also saying that it is no coincidence that these type of folks tend to obsess over questions of organization and seem to understand the problems of insurrection and revolution as first and foremost a problem of management. This is dangerously wrong, and belies a serious lack of faith and understanding, key to anarchism and anarchy, about how groups of people can and do revolt, adapt, and self organize in amazing ways in real time under adverse conditions, without well managed blue prints or party style organization.

All of these concerns I think are legitimate and go well beyond some silly straw man that says "destroy everything!" ---although at the end of the day, they are a good reminder why our and most important task, ESPECIALLY in this current historical moment, is to consider the processes of attack and self-organization, and how to generalize those things, NOT how to preemptively rebuild the economic world we re trying to destroy.

"People arent going to stop growing food, transporting needed supplies, caring for the sick and elderly, providing medical treatment, or any number of other general activities that are actually necessary but that we currently refer to as "the economy" in the midst of or immediately after a social revolution. "

>"for common sense reasons that we actually have very very little idea of who various kinds of overlapping anarchist societies and communities will or should look like, due to a huge number of factors; given that reality, its best to generally trust those people to figure those things out in real time"

pick one

you thought is still incredibly managerial and economic, despite your flirtation with negativity.

come on, a distinction between "Actually necessary" activities and superfluous ones ( mining)

the idea of people "figuring it out" "on their own" if "free" and "left alone" is merely the economics of self management, i.e classic liberalism. What is "it"? What is this thing to figure it out? Life? Sustainably? Survival? Success? And what if they want to die?

"

"People arent going to stop growing food, transporting needed supplies, caring for the sick and elderly, providing medical treatment, or any number of other general activities that are actually necessary but that we currently refer to as "the economy" in the midst of or immediately after a social revolution. "
"

this is such an insane statement of so many levels i'm just going to quote it again. damn

OP here (I asked what people would eat...which, by the way, is a question, not a straw-man.)

"This is a silly strawman, as you well know. People arent going to stop growing food, transporting needed supplies, caring for the sick and elderly, providing medical treatment, or any number of other general activities that are actually necessary but that we currently refer to as "the economy" in the midst of or immediately after a social revolution."

Tell that to somebody living in a Syrian refugee camp. Or, for that matter, tell it to one of the millions of people in rich nations who already lack these basic necessities. Then explain to all the precarious workers involved in providing these services why they should keep working at their old jobs in a world devoid of paycheques, rent and bills... This argument is a cop out. It's hopelessly naive and shows a frightening amount of ignorance regarding past revolutions (in which these things tend to come up). The only straw man is in assuming that I must be proposing some kind of Leninist dictatorship for asking.

1) I agree, totally, that no single system will be enough and that any real anarchist society would be more of a patchwork of anarchisms than anything so standardized and monolithic. The question remains, though, of what constitutes an "anarchist" mode of sharing/exchanging resources and what doesn't. If that isn't fleshed out, capitalists and fascists will just re-brand themselves and keep going (that's why people like Kieth Preston are the biggest exponents of "panarchy").

2)I'll be the first to argue against any kind of "blueprint" and that we can't really envision an anarchist society from today's vantage point. That doesn't mean, though, that we shouldn't try, lest we be caught totally unprepared when the state falls. When that happens, and people learn that their vague, hyper-critical ideals don't actually offer any solutions, they tend to fall back on traditional capitalist/authoritarian ways of doing things (often as bad or worse than those they replaced). Too many revolutions and workers' co-ops have gone down that path already, and I'd rather not see any more.

3) That really depends on how you define "conservative", and sounds suspiciously like circular logic. If you assume that everyone who dares propose a model of stateless social organizing is a conservative, then yes, I suppose they are, but what does that prove?

I live in a mid-sized city with half a million people in it. That means within the first week of revolution around ten million meals will be needed. Without trucks rolling in, most cities will be out of food long before that, even if power stays on for refrigeration. A week or so after that, every edible weed and animal larger than a rat will be gone, too. Crops don't grow overnight - if we wait till then to plant seeds, we'll starve long before they mature, or fall victim to one kind of counter-revolution or another as people turn, in desperation, to somebody who promises a return to the world they used to know.

I have a lot of critiques of the anti-organizationist position. I could kind of build on what you said and bing it in my direction, you touched on it - the naivety, the lack of assault, or the lack of a concept of assault, on certain modes of living one doesn't like instead of saying "they will all develop in an anarchist fashion if people are left alone", the idea of leaving people alone

but you're just so fucking out there... I can't do anything but mumble at you flabbergasted.

"I live in a mid-sized city with half a million people in it. That means within the first week of revolution around ten million meals will be needed"

wow. this is something you share with the person you are arguing with. this idea. this concern over support and supply.

Does everyone need to be fed? Do you care about everyone being fed? Why? Additionally, aren't there some people you'd like to see go without food? Starvation used as an weapon? like seriously, wtf?

like your enemy you are a universal humanist. Your "we" is synonymous" with "Everyone"/ the population of "Your city." Your entire thought is so fucking strange. like a mid sized city with half million people in it? what? cities don't have stable populations. people move around, you know that right? like what? and you want to feed everyone in the city? how can you actually think this? your speech is so strange... like you mentioned fascists and capitalists a few sentences back. are they your enemies in a "Rebranding war" a proganda war only, or do you actually want to fight them? doesn't that require... I don't know... NOT FEEDING THEM??!?!!

" Then explain to all the precarious workers involved in providing these services why they should keep working at their old jobs in a world devoid of paycheques, rent and bill"

old jobs... like that assumes... oh my god I just can't...

like your enemy you are a revolutionist, and a communist. merely an organizationist one as opposed to a anti-organizationist. you're both fucking... I just gah...

"the lack of assault, or the lack of a concept of assault, on certain modes of living one doesn't like "

I say that you touched upon this - in your own way - by bringing up the question of definitions. "fascists and caps will rebrand themselves" ect. "what constitutes an anarchist relation" so we share an interest here in a kind of indirect ways, a similar disposition, although of course manifested completely differently.

you approach it as a matter of defintions, of anarchism, what is and not anarchism, and the possibly of fighting those who do not fit the definition

I approach it, with perhaps some of the same gestures and affectual structure, coming from similar places, as a matter of what I want and don't want (or without reference to anarchism.

but we are similar, or atleast similarity can be drawn between us, in opposition to your foe, who simply brushes such a question, such a place aside with the idea of "Self management"

that's what I was trying to get at

"Does everyone need to be fed?"

Yes, they do. Otherwise they die.

"Do you care about everyone being fed? Why?"

Because I'm not a sociopath. And even if I were, the prospect of half a million hungry people (and many more within a few days walk) poses a rather substantial threat to my life and prospects for happiness.

"Additionally, aren't there some people you'd like to see go without food?"

Well that's fucked up.

What kind of percentage are you talking about here? Like, enough to put a sizable dent in the population? How do you plan on enforcing this starvation?

People need food to live. Whether or not I feed them, whether or not they stay within the city boundaries, they need to eat or they'll die. There are many more cities nearby with millions more people. People do some really fucked up things when faced with those kinds of conditions, and that's happened in more than a few revolutions over the years (Paris Commune, for instance). If you want to talk about ending capitalism in any meaningful way, that's going to interrupt the food supply to just about everybody. You realize that has consequences, right? Where exactly do you expect those people to find food? Or do you just expect them to die?

Amen

Actually I basically DO expect those people to die. I will survive because I studied herbalism while those morons were trying to become techies and baristas. Not after the crash thinkers, well too bad. Insurrection is the end of civilization and you know what, we can't support CITY populations without civilization. Fine, more free land for me to roam. Anarchy won't happen without mass starvation so, so what, and again, I will be one of the ones who survives because I know how to gather both kinds of mushrooms and I also train systema.

^First motherfucker to get eaten when SHTF.

You got your woodwork game proper too?

This.

"What kind of percentage are you talking about here? Like, enough to put a sizable dent in the population? How do you plan on enforcing this starvation?"

this isn't the great primitivst die off versus the anarcho syndiclist debate that you're trying to force it to be.

it's actually very simple. it's not about population, atleast in the way you think of it.

it's about something very specific. like keep it basic. we'll go with cops, an easy archetypical image, as much as I detest such rhetoric. the question is:

during or after a "revolution" (your entire concept of revolution is alien to me, so forgive me if I get a little confused) are you going to

1) give food and medical care to a cop, a specific cop.

2) organize some sort of campaign to feed cops in general, like a spaghetti dinner to raise funds for them, so a broader and more impersonal assistance

3) THIS IMPORTANT: organize systems of resource distrubtion, that through there inclusivity and accessibly, make it very easy for cops to be fed through them. (such as "Trucks" that deliver food to every household in the city (cops live in houses) or some sort of breadline open to the "public"

If you answered no to any or all these questions, then the next set of questions is:

1) if someone feeds a cop or assists a cop, what are you going to do about it. what is you general idea on how to deal with such people doing a rev and after one (let's say after certain groups of people attempt to reestablish the "police" or whatever) What are you going to do with cops lovers? Huh? The ones that grow food for them in their gardens "after the rev when the economy collaspes" as the cops fight to restore capitalism?

2) once again, what is your response to an impersonal and broad campaign "feed our boys in blue to help fight the war against the striker" or whatever. hot soup for scabs and strike breakers. (I assume your idea of rev contains some sort of idea of a massive general strike at some point.)

3) finally, what is your response to systems that are open to cops, such as, for example, a marketplace, soup kitchen, charity office.

First, to those, who are like "youre both revolutionaries, communists....etc." Yeah. Duh. Of course i want a revolution. Many revolutions. Many insurrections. Constantly. ANd of course i want the commune. And of course as an anarchist im also partly an individualist. Done. Duh. Feel free to relabel it the "commune of egos" if you care to. Whatever, thats not interesting to me in the least.

Second, as for whomever thinks, fuck all these people with their questions or concerns over larger patterns of social revolt and infrastructure--"its their damn fault for not becoming skilled at mycology beforehand, so they cant just live alone eating portabello sandwiches while their neighbors starve" or whatever....well, i think we can just let that position stand on its own. Most of us probably get that the shit that will best help 'us' survive through crises--whether an ecological crisis caused by our enemies or a social revolutionary one caused by populations in rebellion--is gonna have at least as much to do with the social relationships and networks and social force we ve built up as with individual skill possession. For those who disagree there are some awesome right wing prepper websites they can visit in order to brag about how many water bottles youve got in your bunker. (Incidentally, learning mycology and growing powerful networks of resistance arent mutually exclusive...)

thirdly, a response to this: " 2)I'll be the first to argue against any kind of "blueprint" and that we can't really envision an anarchist society from today's vantage point. That doesn't mean, though, that we shouldn't try, lest we be caught totally unprepared when the state falls. When that happens, and people learn that their vague, hyper-critical ideals don't actually offer any solutions, they tend to fall back on traditional capitalist/authoritarian ways of doing things (often as bad or worse than those they replaced). Too many revolutions and workers' co-ops have gone down that path already, and I'd rather not see any more."

Im personally not opposed scheming and dreaming for the sake of growing some kind of anarchist imagination of sorts- those kinds of conversations can be fun sometimes, if not mostly pointless. nor am i probably the strict anti-organizationalist some have read me to be in a few comments. My concern has more to do with your analysis than a some kind of "original sin" critique of any and all organization-as-bad. First, to echo an earlier comment, your placing this certain kind of large, stable industrial workplace at the center of your 'materialism' is unbelievably out of touch with the last 30 or 40 years of development, not to mention with the lived experience of nearly every anarchist and otherwise friend i know. They already summarized that critique well enough, so ill let it sit. Second, you seem to pose that the reason revolutions and co-ops (two pretty distinct things!) have fallen back on capitalist ways of doing things is for lack of a structural economic plan of sorts. What a weird critique of co-ops, and for that matter, what a weirdly ideology-based supposition--that the problem of a co-op managed from within capitalism and thus still forced to compete on a capitalist market--in a supposedly materialist article! Cus it seems pretty clear from my observation at least, in seeing many such projects, is that their giant damning characteristic is external and structural: namely that they exist within the rules of capitalism and have no choice but to play the game as such, regardless of how sound their "vision" might be in theory. This is also a classic critique of syndicalism itself, of course, and admittedly at least one person pointed out that this critique is hardly new. But it has still proved true again and again, with every damn co op coffee shop and co op farming project that five years down the road finds its participants forced to act and manage themselves in exactly the same way as they had at their shitty jobs before. It is absolutely a mistake to center your materialism around a set of workplaces that almost no longer exist in our immediate circumstances, or to center it around building your new world from inside this one (and, of course, there really is no outside, either...). We can deal practically with problems of food and health and security and care within whatever spheres of revolt we open up, as we find them, but separating those questions from revolt itself, in order to attempt to create some kind of self managed economics from within capitalism, is absolutely a dead end. How many times do we have to see that play out?

its pretty interesting how lots of people are saying that there are not industrial or supply chain jobs in the US anymore. I suppose that if most of the commenters have never worked in a warehouse, as a trucker, railroad worker, food packing plant, etc... its because they no longer exist? If anything, the growth of the service economy has created more supply chain infrastructure. Or maybe because its outside of the realm of experience of these people, they only buy things and never have to work in the manual labor needed to actually get them to their end destination. If such, I can understand how some people dont find it important to organize while at work. But thats not the case for most people in this country.

there doesn't need to be a paradigm of either labor work or broader social insurrection. No one is blind enough to think that a general strike alone will have the power to overthrow capitalism or the state... but to avoid social interaction with working class people...means that you will end up only in a subcultural mileau or a vague nothingness like the occupy movement.

How many people hear simply come to the conclusions of Baudrillard or Dupont and simply just give up on the Messianic communist stuff.

First and formost I do not think an economic ecological energy triple E collapse as I call it is going to destroy the megalithic memeplex. The reason I conclude this by simply looking at what happened 12000 years ago(if there was something to knock us back into a pre symbolic context or end the megalithic expression that was it) as well as what happened after Rome.

I think the enframing brought about by coinage and literacy is hear to stay whether we like it or not. Only a Toba volcano times 10 around the world could MAYBE stop all of this. My approach is to take either the Oscar Wilde approach or some mountain hermetic approach and simply make my area of surroundings as beautiful as possible. Do what the ancient Essenes and others like them did and intentionalize human scale and individual skill.

Other then that in the event of a tripple E collapse I expect human megaliths and memes to reconstruct themselves in due course.

(one of the commenters pointing out the utter outdatedness of the op author here)

certainly im not suggesting avoiding "social interaction with the working class". that would make little sense since me and nine tenths of my friends all work wage jobs of one kind or another.

but by little coincidence, even of those friends who work in a warehouse (there are several), still find themselves in highly precarious, unstable, difficult if not impossible to unionize in the traditional sense understood by the author of this article. Thats really the point, for me, that drives home the critique. Its not that a broadly materialist approach is wrong to understanding capital (we re fairly lost without it, as important as other contributions can also be), or even that workplace based struggles are automatically bankrupt (they may or may not be, i think its partly contextual). Its that this article centers the focus on specific kind of workplace - large, industrial, stable-that is quickly on the demise if not already gone from most of our lives. The obstacles to such an approach are very clear, the pay off to such an approach, from an insurrectionary or perhaos just revolutionary trajectory, very very low. Its not where shit is popping off, as a rule, and there is a reason for that. This is not the same thing as saying "class doesnt matter" or "poor people arent involved in global insurrections anymore" or any such nonsense-but it is important to recognize that class struggle has moved outside of and beyond the workplace for a reason.

PS While the characteristics of oCCupy were obnoxiously middle class (a vague nothingness as you say, and i agree) in many places, the same could be said for most unions. Unions are selfconsciously and proudly the source of the american middle class, and a large defender of whiteness in a number of ways. They ve been a counter revolutionary force, at times proudly and explicitly so, at least since 1940s and the taft hartley act. Much of their membership base proudly considers itself middle class.

Occupy, on the other hand, despite all its absurdity, at least at times opened up spaces for new kinds of political interaction between the homeless, the unemployed, students in debt, anarchists, etc. And, lest we forget, it resulted in the only general strike, as new and different as it was, that has happened in this country since the 1940s. Again, theres a reason for this. Unless those with a class and materialist analysis wish to literally drown in the sea of their own historical reenactments, they need to acknowledge the material changes in political economy that brought us to this point, and seriously readjuest their strategies for outreach, self-organization and attack.

"and a large defender of whiteness in a number of ways."

Can you stop using that term.

"It should be apparent to anyone viewing the labor movement in the US that it has arrived at a turning point."

It seems like these "turning points" keep occurring, yet nothing ever changes. This is just the same old outdated view of capitalism and wishing for the mythical heyday of anarchist union militancy. But, it ain't gonna happen...

If you are expecting some sort of resurgence of old school Leninist dictatorships then you are probably right. The techno industrial systems fatal flaw was that old school structures of domination only paid lip service to the law and science was used although not faithfully believed. This has resulted in a tremendous contradiction between the design and designers of management and control systems. The cold calculating rationality of the system is ultimately impermeable even to the very powerful and rich and sadly (although I think a bit too optimistic) it was built along humanist lines.

labor works hard for industry, so industrialists and banksters don't have to!

there's the only strategy that labor has ever acted upon:

"shut up and get back to work."

there - we won a raise, now shut up and get back to work.

there! we took over the factories, now shut up and get back to work!

nice strategy for anyone who wants absolutely no change in their way of life, other than something "more fair."

i like how this article is provoking responses from almost as boring anti-sydicatilist anarcho-communists, whose positions and responses to anarcho-sydincalism have been around and are as old as anarcho-sydncalism itself...

muh circulation! muh ports! muh city squares! muh riots! muh precarity!

(precarity/new international distribution of labor/globalizaion)

honestly, a lot of these ideas are really just radical anarcho-syndicalist ones... it is important to see them as this. neo-anarcho syndicalism rather then anti-syndicalism (anti- union buecrecrary, speaking of the radical orginigs and elements of the Spanish rev) ... or at least see anti-syndicalist communism as boring as syndicalism... - the rad syndicalists thought the riot was the solution too... we should not forget that strikes became riots a great deal of times and to many strike = riot... so, many rad syndicalists had the same framework that the anarco-commies have now... George sorel... Benjamin... iww hobo union...

the pistelos were pretty cool, but what a classic move to subordinate their tale of daring and adventure to revolution, as part of the development of the "revolutionary situation".... what a anti-syndicalist communist/ rad neo syndicalist move!

what about that baron that played both sides BANG BANG

reminds me of Ungern von Sternberg! altho a great deal probably cause she was a baron too... but also: warlords!

so: in conclusion, finally, to summarize, I would like to end with, ultimately: anarcoh-commies suck too, and it's dangerous to post articles like this cause it gives them a chance to bring out their rad arguments, shaperen them, appear fresher and better in comparision and gain legimancy, juust as posting about Deep green resistance and salmon sweater ( all these memes of superiority and insularity) give "cool" post-leftist primistivists a chance to appear superiority and gain legimancy, feel better, look hiper.. something that many people said in the comments to that post...

it's interesting that there's this affectual and discourisve presentation of "newness" asscioated with anarcho-communism/ insurrectionanary/ illegilism in regards to ananco-sydnicalism when really it goes

colletivism/mutualism > anarco communism/ illegism / insurrectionary / terrorism > anarcho-sydicialism

addmitely anarcho-sydicalism was a radicalization of a lot of old ideas, like union struggle, and it did take a lot of ideas from mutualism, but it still was the new thing...

and the insurrectionists/communists regarded it warily...

but yeah, /anarcho-sydicalism/sydiniclism/fascism ( they're basically the same thing, seriously, you ever wonder why IWWers seem to be the most anti-fascist - the nascism of small differences) was the new wave that the communists responded to as the established ones, the ones already there...

(it's also funny how leftist anarchists claim anarchist thought is historically essentially anti-cap, when really some of the establishing anarchists, the mutualists/collectivts were pretty much the an-caps of their day. proudhun...but even Bakunin was a collectivist, at least at first. I don't know if she ever converted to communist, I know prince kropoatoe did... and then there were the boston indivualists... ( and the tanscendentss like emerson and throatoe, not explicitly anarchist, but same new England climate) I know Benjamin tucker eventually embraced stirner for a bit, but I think he alwasys kept ( tucker) that properitarian and capitalist/mutualist orientiation...)

HISTORY

an-caps are neoliberal mutants not BAKUNINISTS

Ain't no group of anarchists more misunderstood than the an-caps. I'm not one and think that black and gold is stupid, but no more so than black and red. Both water down black with other colors that represent sets of rules... i.e., lawlessness, but with these laws. Here's the thing though. Some people in a stateless world might want some big-old group hug share-a-thon, or a "solidarity comrade" worker council 10 hour long meeting of a life, just like some might have weird gold fetishes or like trying to be really good at skills and hope that will translate through some trades into nice shit for them (which is what an-caps for the most part want, not "Wal-Mart! Minus Minimum Wage!"). To fuck with either of em without them fucking with me or any other unwilling ones is itself not very anarchist. People have the choice to be boring, and I'd rather take my own route than try to rope them into the crusade of no crusade. And any which way, an-caps are usually way less aggressive about their boringness. They never had a Makhno to say the least.

Hey look everybody it's the king of nuance! Did the ambassador of anarchism sign off on this?

Ancaps want modernity. Good luck trying to achieve that without coercion on a massive level.

Also ancaps want wage labor, private property, private prisons, private police, etc. "Modernity" is the least of my concerns when it comes to ancap baffoons.

Some do. Lots of ancomms want mandatory labor, lack of any personal possessions, people's prisons (or asylums), and people's police. Both are creepy when forced, but the ancaps are a little less utopian in their goals and thus easier to run from.

"Lots of ancomms want mandatory labor, lack of any personal possessions, people's prisons (or asylums), and people's police."

You are full of shit. That is not in anyway representative of what ancomms advocate. Are you like 12 years old?

Just like modernity's destruction.

-Someone who also wants modernity to die but won't waste their time trying to snuff strangers lightbulbs

"but yeah, /anarcho-sydicalism/sydiniclism/fascism ( they're basically the same thing, seriously, you ever wonder why IWWers seem to be the most anti-fascist - the nascism of small differences) was the new wave that the communists responded to as the established ones, the ones already there..."

Do you still molest little boys?

"...when really some of the establishing anarchists, the mutualists/collectivts were pretty much the an-caps of their day. "

That's a flawed stamp to be putting on classical anarchism heavily epicentered on currents going back to 1789. They did not have the distance and paradigm of time that we do today. Getting rid of feudalism with ANYTHING was fairly novel at the time.

will fail. Pure and simple. Think back to when the Wobblies and other friendly societies were at their pre WW1 peak. They were eventually outdone by the emergent welfare states. Why? Because these were spiritual movements first and material second. When the spiritual contexts that created these libertarian friendly societies waned, the friendly societies were in no condition to satisfy the belly on the same level as the emerging welfare states.

The 20th century happened, we failed, let's not go back and fail again.

You are making a false distinction or rather, people may not understand what you mean by spiritual. You are basically taking about religious primitive capital accumulation. When primitives are on the ropes, the belts tighten the welfare state goes. So instead of let's not go back, let's not go back and forth. The precariat trust fund kiddos are the new vanguard. The relations of production will yield in due time. I think. And uh, fyi, tl;dr the article.

By spiritual I mean the the way people like Stirner Nietzsche, Wilde and Novatore define it. Something related to the transformation of myth and archetype.

I don't see the welfare state as resulting from the dialectical ebb and flow of class struggle, I see it coming from a belief structure. When a change does come down the road, struggles based primarily on material demands will hopefully be behind us because if it is not we will see welfare state 2.0 and all the nasty total war things that precede it.

The welfare state is a charity state which siphons worker's taxes off into the state's social-security blanket to avoid sporadic riotous events which could possible disturb the harmony existing between the employer and the workers, in other words taxes are protection money. Welfare states differ considerably in the amount of assistance they provide. There are other voluntary programs which help out which are separate from the state and are based on christian or other spiritual and religious precepts, as a duty, rather than as a guide towards recreating the event as an omnipresent global reality.

Somebody programmed the hal9000 wrong and it seems your logic circuits are degrading. The Catholic church alone could stop world hunger in a day based on its financial worth. But I'd imagine much of it is in banks. So religion is Politics pure and simple. It is more relevant to the question of political forms than economic questions as such.

No you are conflating institutionalized religious churchianity with un-colonized spiritual beliefs, which are separate from politics.

Is a change in the behavioral belief structure, not some politically organized instrument. The 3rd world you have to realize is trying to play catch up in a fundamentally alienated game based on unequal configurations between Eurasia and Non Eurasia.

>behavioral belief structure

noooo

yep

Levi Strausse?

You clearly don't have a fucking clue what materialism is.

What the fuck do you mean by "spiritual"?

Spirituality is just unorganized religion. Been there, done that.

First of religion is simply away of explaining the world, it is also as Julian Jaynes says an expression of nostalgia for the lack of any immediate divination of reality, something that use to be provided by hallucinogenic and bicameral minds. A materialist aesthetic perspective is simply the others side of the coin. What is missing is an intuitive mind that has direct access to the divination of reality.

Unorganized religion in this regard would be an improvement for what we have right now.

I agree with the first paragraph that we need to get busy. Personally Occupy taught me that we need to get organized, i think it also taught me that some grandiose utopian revolutionary moment is more likely nonsense. I think there needs to be a new kind of anarchist: a pragmatic revolutionary anarchist. I like to ask people a question "if there was a second occupation, would we be ready for it, to use it to actually get an anti-capitalist anti-statist movement off the ground?". One thing I would say about the piece is that I don't spend my time thinking about organizing workplaces, I think they should be unionized for the worker's sanity, but I don't think it's a good strategy for worker ownership. If you think about it seriously, workers taking over factories, as far as i can see, will only happen after we reach a critical mass; as of right now we have a heteogeneous left that isn't working together. I suggest the best way to get people on the left to join in an anti-capitalist struggle is to get them to see that worker ownership is feasible. In order to do this I suggest getting worker owned and managed cooperatives in every town in the world - the hope is that shoppers/workers will see a sign that says "worker owned cooperative" and the idea will spread much more effecitvely than telling people capitalism sucks and we need to seize the means of production. once we have a critical mass and worker owned coops proliferate then we can begin talking about seizing the means of production and whatever else is more radical.

This does not compute! Yes, I plagiarized some 'Lost in Space' archival TV files!
I envy the Robinson family's robot's mobility only! (OMG they in turn plagiarized 'The Swiss Family Robinson'!). Its fake emotional panic attack 'WARNING WARNING WARNING!!!' was sooo bourgeois. I disliked Starwar's androgynous whining cyborg, I would have kicked its ass! It was a typical liberal value spouting neurotic!
I DO love the giant omni-powerful goliath of a robot in 'The Day the Earth Stood Still'. He is my role model!

i would not understand why "materialism" necessarely implies economicism and class centeredness. Clearly this is a marxist problematic. And anarcho-syndicalism doesn´t need marxism either. In fact anarchosyndicalists like Sam Dolgoff and Auguste Souchy wrote entire books critical of marxism.

It appears at the outset of this article that yet another attempt is being made at reifying the very structures which the author purports to struggle against. As a previous commenter spoke to, this notion of historical determinism and in this case pre-determinism is precisely the type of controls, checks and balances the Marxists attempt to impose.
They say that one must take this 'newfound' understanding of the workings of the state and capital and bestow unto 'the masses' an attempt at gratification and redemption precisely through alotting them the power to 'guide'.
In this sense, it is 'determined' that there continues to exist a solidified proletariat which can be mobilized against the managers of consumption and production. This myth, albeit quite understandably applicable during Marx' time, was dispelled by Herbert Marcuse (particularly in 'One dimensional man'). We then saw a follow up by Jean Baudrillard in 'The mirror of production', which went beyond Marcuse to state that centres of production aren't even in of themselves what are of primary importance to the flow of capital. It is consumption and furthermore, the capitalizing on desire by power against ther perceived powerless, which constitutes the crux of capitalism' relevance within so called advanced industrial states or imperialist states.

In the case of Baudrillard' attack on traditional Marxist notions of political economy, we can observe the massive divide which rings true between the industrial labourer and the Indigenous collective or even the peasant. The former and mid are clearly at odds for survival. The latter is largely the backbone of the former and shares certain points of communion with the middle.

The utilization of industry necessarily entails the destruction of the natural phenomena which bind beings through historical primordiality. What I mean to say here, is that in order for the industry to exist (factories;retail stores;various forms of urban landscape etc) the geometrical cordening off of and subsequent dissection of the natural environment is a must. This necessarily translates into destroying Indeigenous communities, destroying ecosystems and making existence moot for non-humyn animals as a whole.

This article, as an above commenter has already indicated, is merely the attempt at selling, nay exposing the Marxist tendencies of classic anarcho-syndicalism with a purported differentiation between Marxist authoritarianism vis-a-vis electing one into power to reign over the rest, and small scale voting on the shop floor which merely ammounts to a microcosm of the former.

that's some really cool ultra-leftist and post-Marxist theory you got there. but I don't know if you got the memo or not, but we're anti-leftist.

I am slightly confused as to how post-marxist theory is not in of itself anti-left? Care to elaborate?

Perhaps some definitions are required. What is meant by 'left' and 'post-left' when you conceive of such notions?

getting too specific is difficult, but I would say this:

many post-lefists are simply leftists. they understand themselves to be "beyond the left because they critique

left-liberalism/humanism/republicanism/classic liberalism/reformism

when traditional leftism is predicated on such a critique (marx). it is quite hilarious that people think themselves post-leftist from criquiting human rights when that was one of the major lines of stalins gov "human rights is a bourgeois concept"

and they understand themselves as "Beyond the left" because they critique some aspects of traditional leftism (scientific materialism, the proletariat, authoritarian, industry, party-form) when ultra-leftism is predicated on that critique. ( situ and post-situ, post-Marxist, frankurt school, trots, politics of daily life, Maoism, ecology, autonomia, council communism, Marxist-feminism).

so, if you understand leftism as simply liberal leftism, then yes post-leftism could be really called that. and if you understand leftism as liberal-leftist and traditional leftism then yes, you can call yourself post-leftists. but ultra-leftism has been a tradition within leftism from the beginning and to pretend it's outside is... well you people are basically quoting Trotsky and mao and calling youself post-leftists. it's absurd.

most post-leftism is simply a three way war between those three positions, with different emphasis here and there... few actually break out of leftism, and most do so by pushing one of the three positions to the extreme, bringing in right wings ideas... for example the fascists could legimetely be said to be post-leftist, although they had many leftist elements. an-caps as well, by emphasizing left-liberalism above everything to the point it swings to the swing. i'm not saying this is good.

i'm not saying critiques of liberal-leftism* are essentially leftist, or that critiques of traditional leftist are essentially leftist: /just that, and this is important, critiquing liberal leftism doesn't make you not a leftist, and critiquing traditional leftism doesn't make you not a leftist.

(See the romantics, the catholic counter-revolutionarys, who were definitely right wings - right wingers who had a lot of influence of traditional leftism and it's critiques of liberal leftism)

There is a definite distinction between what is 'left' and what is 'post-left' and this is not constituted by critique. Critique is an application of observation(s), association(s) and deduction(s) which is not bound by any form of universal labeling.
The left critique, as do the right, and the post-left.

I see the left as being juxtaposed to the right on a sliding scale of external controls where one side tends towards absolute central control and the other tends towards a more 'inclusive' form of systematic control.
The left indicates a point on a spectrum which exists within the bounds of the state and capitalism whereby its aggregation wills to reform existing structures in an attempt to make them seem more inclusive to many more than the right. The post-left works to move beyond this as a formidable 'solution' and tends towards the destruction of the structures themselves.

Thus, anarcho-syndicalism fits squarely within the confines of the left necessarily, as the union works towards utilitarian goals of quantity over quality of existence.

perhaps the question would be better posed as at what point does ideology stop supposing itself as ideological?

At the point of practical application.

Levi-Strauss sucks. Forget modernity.

what is this giant deluded stalinist pile of dogshit? wow i cant wait until all the workers at mcdonalds finally take over the world. who will build the roads, how can we seize the means of production from those more clever than we...a really creepy misinformed time warp.

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