New Aims and Principles

27 posts / 0 new
Last post
afraser
Offline
Joined: 16-07-05
Jul 2 2007 13:01
New Aims and Principles

Below are aims and principles I wrote for up for a potential new group. Was trying to avoid old style anarchist/marxist jargon words as much as I could, which aims and principles of existing groups are often heavily laden with. I'd be grateful for any feedback.

Quote:
Ordinary working people produce all the world’s wealth. So we ought to enjoy the benefits. But a great slice of the benefits are taken from us by capitalists, by landlords, by state governments. It is they who control the world’s wealth, and they who control our places of work. But it is rightfully our wealth, and our places of work.

When we are at work we must obey the orders of people appointed over us, who are not accountable to us or elected by us. And the profits we make are taken from us and handed over to wealthy strangers who have done none of the work.

Why do we work for benefit of others? Why do we let them order us around? Because we are no longer free people (just try and refuse the orders of you boss some day at work if you want to find out how free you really are). Two hundred years after the abolition of serfdom and slavery, the institution of equality before the law and of democratic government with human rights, we find that we have now lost our freedom again.

Our situation is truly horrible:
* We go to work for most of our productive waking hours, and for most of our lives;
* At work we obey the orders of others, of people appointed above us without our consent. That is: of tyrants.
* The profits we make at work are taken away by stockholders and senior executives, and not returned to us. That is: are stolen.

To speak bluntly, we are slaves. We are slaves by day to capitalists whom we do not control, and whose interests are opposed to ours, and as part of a capitalist system from which we benefit from only indirectly.

We are controlled, during working hours, by corporations, which although creations of our society’s legal system, in fact operate as private tyrannies, accountable to no one but their senior management or (in extreme conditions) stockholders.

As socialists, we seek to replace this system with one where we are free individuals, no longer subject to the tyranny of owners.

A BETTER WORLD
Is a better world possible? What would it look like? What can we do to help advance towards it?

Socialism in a past age believed it held the answer to those questions. With state socialism, workplaces were nationalised and placed under central government control. But that proved to be a false path for socialism - all it did was replace capitalist bosses with state tyrants. State socialism managed the impossible - it was even worse than capitalism. Its destruction by popular revolutions twenty years ago was a great achievement.

Unfortunately capitalism remains in place, with lack of freedom in our workplaces, inequality, mass unemployment, and poverty.

But let us not wallow in the valley of despair. Capitalism is not the only option. We can have a world where we have freedom, justice and democracy in our work places and at home. To avoid any danger of the false turn of state socialism, government should be reduced to the tiniest size and power humanly possible. Communities should organise themselves through neighbourhood level assemblies.

We want a world where there will be no bosses, politicians or bureaucrats. A society which will be run in a really democratic way by working people, through councils in the workplaces and community. We want to abolish authoritarian relationships and replace them with control from the bottom up - not the top down.

We want a world where our government is local and accountable and truly 'by the people, for the people'. A world where democracy is direct and real.

We want a world where we do not work for the profit of others, but for our own benefit.

We want a world where we keep whatever profits our work produces, rather than giving it away to absentee owners.

We want a world where the management of our firms is accountable to us, not appointed by strangers.

We want a world where there is full employment - that large numbers of people were not kept semi-permanently unemployed, and wasted to society. We want a world where there is no more poverty.

In such a world, we would live lives as full human beings, not as waged workers under the control of an outside agency, and not as consumers passively consuming from what we are offered by external corporations. Our cities would be communities of neighbours. Our lives would be better balanced between life and work.

FIGHTING TO WIN
Our concept of libertarian socialism is based at a grassroots level, and engages with communities on their terms not ours. Socialists should try and help build their local community into a better place to live in - through whatever means our energies and imaginations can come up with. This is a far cry from seeking to lead or lecture people, or standing outside existing communities as a separate political entity who only appear on stalls or around the doors looking for votes, money or new members.

In our concept of libertarian socialism political organisations exist not to take power for or by themselves but exist to facilitate a movement for change, working side by side with individuals, community and workplace organisations, and even other political parties.

We believe in fighting to win. Our short term plans of campaign shall be geared towards achievable goals. We seek to put pragmatism ahead of idealism.

Dundee_United
Offline
Joined: 10-04-06
Jul 2 2007 13:15

See also: http://libcom.org/forums/scotland/local-group

lem
Offline
Joined: 25-07-05
Jul 2 2007 13:28

pragmatism - that's what they want us to believe! where's your paranoia like?

eta: no like i don't pretend to have answers to suitable tactics to bring about communism or 'owt.

meh
Offline
Joined: 30-06-07
Jul 2 2007 13:31
Quote:
Below are aims and principles I wrote for up for a potential new group.

I assume this is Praxis which Dundee_united was telling me about and I would be interested in getting involved later on in the year.

Quote:
Was trying to avoid old style anarchist/marxist jargon words as much as I could

That is a must as it just alienates people. If there is a complex word which can be changed for an easier word, then I would do it. The libcom style guide might be useful.

As for the aims and principles, very good. It was clear and concise.

Quote:
We are controlled, during working hours, by corporations, which although creations of our society’s legal system, in fact operate as private tyrannies, accountable to no one but their senior management or (in extreme conditions) stockholders.

You should point out that even when we get home we are still under the influence of corporations (television,adverts) which then coerce us into giving away part of our salary on things we do not need - the latest mobile phone, the latest fashion accessory etc. I think this should be included as there is a large number of people who do not buy into consumerism.

That's the only point I can think of. As a short introduction to the proposed groups ideas it is very good.

Dundee_United
Offline
Joined: 10-04-06
Jul 2 2007 13:34
Quote:
pragmatism - that's what they want us to believe!

Oh right... wall

Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
Offline
Joined: 6-05-05
Jul 2 2007 13:50
Quote:
we are still under the influence of corporations (television,adverts) which then coerce us into giving away part of our salary on things we do not need - the latest mobile phone, the latest fashion accessory etc. I think this should be included as there is a large number of people who do not buy into consumerism

Make your mind up, if there's a large number of people who do not buy into it, we're hardly being coerced into giving away part of our salary on things we do not "need". Leave it as it is, afraser, don't let the hippy anti-consumerists in. Or the tin-foil hatters.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Jul 2 2007 14:59

Ok a few quick thoughts, the main one is that 1. there's still jargon in there 2. taking out jargon shouldn't involve changing the meaning of some basic principles.

Quote:
Ordinary working people produce all the world’s wealth. So we ought to enjoy the benefits. But a great slice of the benefits are taken from us by capitalists, by landlords, by state governments. It is they who control the world’s wealth, and they who control our places of work. But it is rightfully our wealth, and our places of work.

When we are at work we must obey the orders of people appointed over us, who are not accountable to us or elected by us. And the profits we make are taken from us and handed over to wealthy strangers who have done none of the work.

Why do we work for benefit of others? Why do we let them order us around? Because we are no longer free people (just try and refuse the orders of you boss some day at work if you want to find out how free you really are). Two hundred years after the abolition of serfdom and slavery, the institution of equality before the law and of democratic government with human rights, we find that we have now lost our freedom again.

OK. I don't think we were 'free' two hundred years ago and lost it again. Does anyone?

Quote:
* We go to work for most of our productive waking hours, and for most of our lives;
* At work we obey the orders of others, of people appointed above us without our consent. That is: of tyrants.
* The profits we make at work are taken away by stockholders and senior executives, and not returned to us. That is: are stolen.

Er, a lot of people won't think of their supervisor, team leader or immediate line manager as "tyrants", nor are they necessarily very powerful. Not that some aren't, but it's possible to have a perfectly nice manager who asks you to do things nicely, and still have a class analysis plus dislike your job.

Quote:
Socialism in a past age believed it held the answer to those questions. With state socialism, workplaces were nationalised and placed under central government control. But that proved to be a false path for socialism - all it did was replace capitalist bosses with state tyrants. State socialism managed the impossible - it was even worse than capitalism. Its destruction by popular revolutions twenty years ago was a great achievement.

State socialism was a form of capitalism, a very inefficient one, but still.

Quote:
government should be reduced to the tiniest size and power humanly possible.

Sounds like it's lifted straight from the US Libertarian Party.

Quote:
We want a world where the management of our firms is accountable to us, not appointed by strangers.

We want a world where there is full employment - that large numbers of people were not kept semi-permanently unemployed, and wasted to society. We want a world where there is no more poverty.

Eh? Full employment? "our firms"?

Dundee_United
Offline
Joined: 10-04-06
Jul 2 2007 15:08
Quote:
State socialism was a form of capitalism, a very inefficient one, but still.

That's a moot point, although on a personal level I agree with you. Some would argue however that the abolition of private property constituted the end of capitalism proper, and something else was created. There is certainly no argument to be had that it was shit however, but you're just being querelous to insist on this, and referring to the USSR as state capitalist confuses and conflates the issue with measures like the NEP.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Jul 2 2007 15:54
Quote:
here is certainly no argument to be had that it was shit however

But if it's a form of capitalism (as it appears we both agree), then it can't be "worse than capitalism".

I'd also say I don't think it was "worse" than capitalism under Hitler, Franco, in South Africa, in Imperial Japan, in some South American countries etc. etc.

If I was just nitpicking my post would've been five times as long.

Dundee_United
Offline
Joined: 10-04-06
Jul 2 2007 16:05
Quote:
But if it's a form of capitalism (as it appears we both agree), then it can't be "worse than capitalism".

I'd also say I don't think it was "worse" than capitalism under Hitler, Franco, in South Africa, in Imperial Japan, in some South American countries etc. etc.

If I was just nitpicking my post would've been five times as long.

no it's cool. The constructive criticism is useful and we'll take it into consideration. That's why A Fraser posted it.

Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
Offline
Joined: 6-05-05
Jul 2 2007 17:54
Quote:
there's still jargon in there

I counted the following, and humbly suggest the following instead…

Quote:
Ordinary working people

Working class people.

Quote:
capitalists

speculators and “professional managers”

Quote:
landlords

speculators and “professional managers”

Quote:
state governments

speculators and “professional managers”

Quote:
stockholders

speculators with a vested interest in exploiting us

Quote:
the tyranny of owners

tyranny

Quote:
full human beings

servants of Jesus. Ha ha. Seriously, this bit is appalling. As if your principles occupy a higher moral plain. I kid you not, this kind of soppy stuff puts a lot of working class people off politics.

Quote:
Our lives would be better balanced between life and work.

David Cameron. Something for the hardworking families there.

Now Catch’s made some interesting points…

Quote:
taking out jargon shouldn't involve changing the meaning of some basic principles.

Communism isn’t something that can be brought about by convincing people of aims or principles, it is a natural tendency expressed through class struggle.

Quote:
I don't think we were 'free' two hundred years ago and lost it again. Does anyone?

Oh this is a good point. Being “free” isn’t really much of a sell. Other than “injustice”, the every day problems these aims are designed to address aren’t clear. I don’t mind being a waged worker to be honest, it’s what I can get for the wage that matters. I mean, work-life balance and that, it’s a question of horses for courses.

lem
Offline
Joined: 25-07-05
Jul 2 2007 18:38
Dundee_United wrote:
Quote:
pragmatism - that's what they want us to believe!

Oh right... wall

hey! don't hurt yourself!!!
if there is some disagreement between us i reckon it's
1) because it's a buzzword and i thusly don't understand it
or 2) you are a not so secret reformist
or 3) i'm an obvious imbecile.

which is it?

eta: it was meant light heartedly anyway.

Dundee_United
Offline
Joined: 10-04-06
Jul 2 2007 18:48
Quote:
reformist

I am for reforms which lead to other reforms, which lead to more power for the organised forces of the class which lead to further reforms, which lead consistently towards increasing power for the class and towards dual power. There is just this discussion taking place on the Ireland forum at the moment.

I believe in popular revolution and believe it will prove necessary to ultimately implement any maximum programme, but I believe it is very far off and will require the conscious rebuilding of the unions and of the community organisations, and the development of a counter economics and a municipalist strategy coupled with the conscious political movement for socialism. We are very far away in this country from revolution being even a distant possibility and it will require a lot of 'reformism' to get us to that position. I think the scale of the task turns socialists into insurrectionists of various varieties because of the bankruptcy of their ideas about how to get us to the point of revolutionary transformation. As a response people try scratching at the stars and behaving like utopians. Without massive workers movements built from decades of struggles and real reforms and victories then calling for revolution is as utopian as dreams of the pacifists.

lem
Offline
Joined: 25-07-05
Jul 2 2007 18:55

hey i'm not a utopian - just a philosopher sad

lem
Offline
Joined: 25-07-05
Jul 2 2007 19:54
Dundee_United wrote:
Quote:
reformist

I am for reforms which lead to other reforms, which lead to more power for the organised forces of the class which lead to further reforms, which lead consistently towards increasing power for the class and towards dual power. There is just this discussion taking place on the Ireland forum at the moment.

I believe in popular revolution and believe it will prove necessary to ultimately implement any maximum programme, but I believe it is very far off and will require the conscious rebuilding of the unions and of the community organisations, and the development of a counter economics and a municipalist strategy coupled with the conscious political movement for socialism. We are very far away in this country from revolution being even a distant possibility and it will require a lot of 'reformism' to get us to that position. I think the scale of the task turns socialists into insurrectionists of various varieties because of the bankruptcy of their ideas about how to get us to the point of revolutionary transformation. As a response people try scratching at the stars and behaving like utopians. Without massive workers movements built from decades of struggles and real reforms and victories then calling for revolution is as utopian as dreams of the pacifists.

not sure i quite understand. i don't think you can sell a universal "utopian" -(improper use of the word imo) ideology to a working class, and that as such you may be selling a reformist ideology in your words. do you think that is a possibility??

that's not very clear on my part is it :mad:

tho i don't think i can tell what your group will do [getting involved in the wrong stuff/etc.] from that description exactly. not without looking at other groups anyway.

lem
Offline
Joined: 25-07-05
Jul 2 2007 20:02

i think you make a mistake if you think that a certain amount of reform is a necessary precondition of revolution. not reform that is consciously reform anyway.

eta just to say that i am not attacking anyone just running with "the spirit of enquiry".

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Jul 3 2007 09:13
Dundee_United wrote:
I think the scale of the task turns socialists into insurrectionists of various varieties because of the bankruptcy of their ideas about how to get us to the point of revolutionary transformation.
...
As a response people try scratching at the stars and behaving like utopians. Without massive workers movements built from decades of struggles and real reforms and victories then calling for revolution is as utopian as dreams of the pacifists.

I think you've shown on the WSM thread you don't actually know what insurrectionism is, and don't have much idea of the basics of what constitute communist demands, so I'd go easy with your slagging everyone else off.

And lem - stop doing multiple posts in a row FFS

Dundee_United
Offline
Joined: 10-04-06
Jul 3 2007 09:53
Quote:
I think you've shown on the WSM thread you don't actually know what insurrectionism is

Perhaps I was being too sloppy with my use of language. I wasn't meaning that European Insurrection al la Bonnot (which doesn't really seem to exist in the UK apart from with groups like the Wombles or whatever who appear to have been informed by such ideas) is the same as the ultra-left. What I was saying is that they come from the same place.

Quote:
don't have much idea of the basics of what constitute communist demands

Oh right. Glad to hear you're prepared to abitrate on that. As I stated I'm all for communism and for communist demands, but demanding communism in the here and now - when there are no mass workers movements even close to capable of offering some sort of challenge to bourgeois power - is essentially vacuous. No you can say that means I don't understand communism (ie you're defining communism as being the sole property of the ultra-left) or whatever but it's wank John.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Jul 3 2007 10:04
Dundee_United wrote:
Quote:
I think you've shown on the WSM thread you don't actually know what insurrectionism is

Perhaps I was being too sloppy with my use of language. I wasn't meaning that European Insurrection al la Bonnot (which doesn't really seem to exist in the UK apart from with groups like the Wombles or whatever who appear to have been informed by such ideas) is the same as the ultra-left. What I was saying is that they come from the same place.

Well, not really, but that's not really relevant here.

Quote:
Quote:
don't have much idea of the basics of what constitute communist demands

Oh right. Glad to hear you're prepared to abitrate on that.

Well sorry but if you're going to go off on one about how everyone else is a utopian insurrectionist then yes I am going to patronise you.

Quote:
As I stated I'm all for communism and for communist demands, but demanding communism in the here and now - when there are no mass workers movements even close to capable of offering some sort of challenge to bourgeois power - is essentially vacuous.

What an insight. Still, that is a sound rebuff to all the libcom posts who do go around demanding communism now, including myself. In fact at tomorrow's workplace meeting I shall be submitting just such a motion.

This is particularly funny coming from you, who used to sign all your posts "For Communism red star red star red star red star" and talks on here about revolutionary red armies, when I post news about wildcat strikes and forum threads about my workplace restructuring, pensions and pay disputes.

Quote:
No you can say that means I don't understand communism (ie you're defining communism as being the sole property of the ultra-left) or whatever but it's wank John.

Again with your ultra-left bogeyman! Yesterday you said I was ultra-left for saying that the 3rd world war wasn't brewing! In any case I've started a new thread for this stuff, about the nature of working class/communist demands.

Volin's picture
Volin
Offline
Joined: 24-01-05
Jul 3 2007 17:21
John. wrote:
Again with your ultra-left bogeyman!

Which isn't made any better with the positive identification and misunderstanding of 'reformism'...

Dundee_United wrote:
We are very far away in this country from revolution being even a distant possibility and it will require a lot of 'reformism' to get us to that position.

Despite all previous basic grassroots struggle showing that activity based in reforms and their achievement within and through hierarchies do not lead any nearer to a radical restructuring of society but a co-opting of movements and their collective energy. As opposed to:- the gaining of a reforms that improve people's lives in the immediate sense and in turn increase their independence and capacity to push for more and longer term changes without relying on structures they do not control.

That's all really obvious and I'm not saying you want the former, you make comments against it but then contradict yourself when it comes to particular issues or by mixing up reforms for reformism. Without a clear critique of reformism through practical examples, and assuming that any immediate gains will move us in the direction we want, I think the blindspot inevitably leads to participation in reformism in the real sense.

The constant attacking of 'ultra-leftists' is related to this but doesn't really respond to so-called ultra-leftist arguments. The usual point of difference is the unions. I'm not against genuine rank-and-filism where possible, which I'd differentiate from the more common leftist or Trotskyist understanding of it. But I think it has clear limits and should be understood within the context of an entirely corrupt trade union system that's not an a workplace solution in itself never mind in the bigger picture.

Quote:
We seek to put pragmatism ahead of idealism.

It's a knee-jerk response to high-minded inaction but no better if it means burying real libertarian tactics and visions for any 'practical' approach going - which obviously ties in with the above on reformism. The same goes for ditching any propaganda that happens to be explicitly anarchist in an attempt to attract ordinary people. There's layers of approaches and different ways we can communicate our ideas but that doesn't mean we should ignore the more political or analytical.

Quote:
working side by side with individuals, community and workplace organisations, and even other political parties.

There's a difference between working with people who happen to be in political parties and political parties themselves. Ultra-leftist as I'm sure it sounds, I think it's important that libertarian socialists show we don't need crappy leftist outfits to do things. No way!

Volin's picture
Volin
Offline
Joined: 24-01-05
Jul 3 2007 17:27
revol68 wrote:
we should be scratching at the stars, one does not storm heaven by burrowing through the muck of the ages.

The Paris Communards knew well enough...

'Heaven is on da Earth'. wink

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Jul 3 2007 20:49
Dundee_United wrote:
Quote:
But if it's a form of capitalism (as it appears we both agree), then it can't be "worse than capitalism".

I'd also say I don't think it was "worse" than capitalism under Hitler, Franco, in South Africa, in Imperial Japan, in some South American countries etc. etc.

If I was just nitpicking my post would've been five times as long.

no it's cool. The constructive criticism is useful and we'll take it into consideration. That's why A Fraser posted it.

Well here's some more. I will try to be constructive where possible.

Quote:
Ordinary working people produce all the world’s wealth.

Why ordinary?

Quote:
So we ought to enjoy the benefits. But a great slice of the benefits are taken from us by capitalists, by landlords, by state governments.

"Take from us" makes it sound like we're all petty producers who get ripped off by landlords or agencies etc. although certainly they're a part of experience.

The process of wage labour and capital accumulation isn't one which involves you handing a portion of your produce at the end of the day, it's one where you work all day, and get a wage for what you work (and in Capital Marx shows this is for the full value of your labour power). So the process of "taking from" actually happens at a level abstracted from the exchange of wages for work, where labour's ability to add value, and hence surplus value creates profit - not simple theft, extortion or undervaluing. I've not yet had a job where I directly contributed to the "world's wealth" and nor do most people in developed countries, part of what makes capitalism so shit is the absolute pointlessness of so much work, not just that we get underpaid for doing it.

Quote:
It is they who control the world’s wealth, and they who control our places of work. But it is rightfully our wealth, and our places of work.

Well petty employers, buy to let landlords etc. (as referenced in the first part, and hence again as "they" - don't control the world's wealth. Even futures traders, or the head of the IMF or whatever have only a modicum of control due to capitalism's inherent instability.

Quote:
When we are at work we must obey the orders of people appointed over us, who are not accountable to us or elected by us.

Toyotism generally involves workers drawing up their own orders and negotiating targets with "teams", with macro decisions made at a very much higher level. This doesn't equate with my experience of work whatsoever apart from the three weeks I did at Woolworth's once as a teenager, or when I worked directly for an employer once (who wasn't appointed, they hired me from their personal cash along with other people as self-employed). If I could elect my manager, it wouldn't change the fact they were my manager or I was working for a wage etc. I'd really not be interested in being able to elect my manager very much, or at least there's a million other things I'd like before that.

Quote:
And the profits we make are taken from us and handed over to wealthy strangers who have done none of the work.

I've been working in the public sector for four years. This also doesn't apply to anyone who works in a non-floated small business (or even some large ones).

Quote:
Two hundred years after the abolition of serfdom and slavery, the institution of equality before the law and of democratic government with human rights, we find that we have now lost our freedom again.

OK I mentioned this before, but there's loads in this sentence.

Serfdom and slavery were not abolished 200 years go. Slavery has continued right up to the present day, and wasn't even abolished in the US in 1807 - my work had a bit of stuff about Abolition 2007, and we made a point of highlighting the fact that slavery continued both in the US and elsewhere after the fact.

Quote:
the institution of equality before the law and of democratic government with human rights

What? Even on an entirely legalistic and liberal terrain this makes no sense. Segregation, Jim Crow, universal male (and female) suffrage in the UK. WTF?

Quote:
Our situation is truly horrible:

No, not really. It could be a lot better, and standard of living/quality of life indexes aren't consistent over the past 40 years or so, but it's a fuck load better than 200 years ago.

Quote:
* We go to work for most of our productive waking hours, and for most of our lives;

This would be fine if there was some kind of critique of work in general, but I can't see it.

Quote:
To speak bluntly, we are slaves. We are slaves by day to capitalists whom we do not control, and whose interests are opposed to ours, and as part of a capitalist system from which we benefit from only indirectly.

Bringing up wage slavery fine, but simply saying "we're slaves" doesn't make sense, especially when you say slavery was abolished 200 years ago with no caveats. Also we "benefit indirectly" from the capitalist system - so there's benefits then? What are they?

Quote:
We are controlled, during working hours, by corporations, which although creations of our society’s legal system, in fact operate as private tyrannies, accountable to no one but their senior management or (in extreme conditions) stockholders.

Small employers, or the public sector, can be as bad or worse than corporate jobs. This seems to be playing into anti-globalisation rhetoric - attacking undemocratic corporations rather than capital as a social system.

Quote:
As socialists, we seek to replace this system with one where we are free individuals, no longer subject to the tyranny of owners.

But socialism/communism isn't simply the removal or 'owners', it's considerably more than that.

Quote:
Socialism in a past age believed it held the answer to those questions. With state socialism, workplaces were nationalised and placed under central government control. But that proved to be a false path for socialism - all it did was replace capitalist bosses with state tyrants. State socialism managed the impossible - it was even worse than capitalism. Its destruction by popular revolutions twenty years ago was a great achievement.

Dealt briefly with state socialism before. Two more things: 1. no all old past incarnations of "socialism" were statist - it ignores both anarchism and left communism/ultra leftism completely, and hence tries to present anti-state communism as something new (if only by omission).

Quote:
Unfortunately capitalism remains in place, with lack of freedom in our workplaces, inequality, mass unemployment, and poverty.

Again - lack of freedom in workplaces, a lot of control has been handed to workers under the rubric of team working and even 'self-management' - this is an argument that only really applies to Taylorism/Fordism and and their modern incarnations in call centres maybe.

Quote:
We can have a world where we have freedom, justice and democracy in our work places and at home.

A communist society would hopefully remove the word justice from the human language - being as it's so much to do with exchange.

Quote:
To avoid any danger of the false turn of state socialism, government should be reduced to the tiniest size and power humanly possible.

1. As above, sounds like Milton Friedman.
2. Reducing the size of government now (isn't that what privatisation is?), is no guarantee against some kind of state socialism in the future. Tsarist Russia wasn't exactly "big government" - and the state in 1918 was considerably smaller than it was in 1921 or 1930 or 1956 - in other words it grew due to various ideological and material conditions, not dependent on it's size pre-revolution.

Quote:
We want a world where our government is local and accountable and truly 'by the people, for the people'. A world where democracy is direct and real.

Mass assemblies != "local and accountable". Also I think "by the people, for the people" has more than had its day. Not to mention "the people" and the working class have nothing in common.

Quote:
We want a world where we do not work for the profit of others, but for our own benefit.

I want to abolish work as such, not simply do it for my own benefit.

Quote:
We want a world where we keep whatever profits our work produces, rather than giving it away to absentee owners.

My work doesn't produce any direct profit, and I don't want to "keep" profit, I want to get rid of it altogether.

Quote:
We want a world where the management of our firms is accountable to us, not appointed by strangers.

I don't want any kind of "firm" that's "managed", thank you very much. That's kind of the point of revolution no?

Quote:
We want a world where there is full employment

What?

Quote:
- that large numbers of people were not kept semi-permanently unemployed, and wasted to society.

Being employed or unemployed isn't a measure of your worth to society, it's a measure of your worth to capital.

Quote:
We want a world where there is no more poverty.

So does Bono.

Quote:
not as consumers passively consuming from what we are offered by external corporations.

What about consumers actively consuming from niche businesses (even workers' co-ops).

Quote:
Our lives would be better balanced between life and work.

Again, not a balance, but the elimination of that distinction.

Quote:
Our concept of libertarian socialism is based at a grassroots level, and engages with communities on their terms not ours. Socialists should try and help build their local community into a better place to live in - through whatever means our energies and imaginations can come up with. This is a far cry from seeking to lead or lecture people, or standing outside existing communities as a separate political entity who only appear on stalls or around the doors looking for votes, money or new members.

I'm a bit lost - it says we should use any means, then simply criticises some political parties. My local liberal democrat councillor just dropped a leaflet 'round, by hand (himself I think, I saw him walk away through my window wearing a suit) for a public meeting about a one way system on our street. That'll make my street a better place to live, it's gridlock most of the day with white vans getting stuck down it all the time. The leaflet didn't include any requests for votes, money or membership. There's no outlay of tactics you'd use, just mild criticism of some political parties (that doesn't even set you apart from a "half-decent well meaning local councillor" let alone the left parties etc.).

Quote:
In our concept of libertarian socialism political organisations exist not to take power for or by themselves but exist to facilitate a movement for change, working side by side with individuals, community and workplace organisations, and even other political parties.

Which political parties?

Quote:
Our short term plans of campaign shall be geared towards achievable goals. We seek to put pragmatism ahead of idealism.

I think that's best left to the working class/communist demands thread.

redtwister
Offline
Joined: 21-03-05
Jul 3 2007 22:38

Ah, catch beat me to it...

Quote:
Ordinary working people produce all the world’s wealth. So we ought to enjoy the benefits. But a great slice of the benefits are taken from us by capitalists, by landlords, by state governments. It is they who control the world’s wealth, and they who control our places of work. But it is rightfully our wealth, and our places of work.

[So, the problem isn't being exploited, its that a slice of the benefits are taken from us? So it is a problem of the quantity of wealth we get? So a society of abundance is about everyone having more wealth? What about the miserable quality of life that is about more than simply not having enough wealth?]

Quote:
When we are at work we must obey the orders of people appointed over us, who are not accountable to us or elected by us. And the profits we make are taken from us and handed over to wealthy strangers who have done none of the work.

[More than the profits are taken from us. The whole sum of what we produce is taken from us, and then given back to us in part as wages, that is, as not our, but as something also belonging to capital. Our activity is already sold.]

Quote:
Why do we work for benefit of others? Why do we let them order us around? Because we are no longer free people (just try and refuse the orders of you boss some day at work if you want to find out how free you really are). Two hundred years after the abolition of serfdom and slavery, the institution of equality before the law and of democratic government with human rights, we find that we have now lost our freedom again.

[So now we are against working for the benefit of others? When were we free? When we were petty proprietors? This must be directed at England's disenfranchised middle classes.]

Quote:
Our situation is truly horrible:
* We go to work for most of our productive waking hours, and for most of our lives;
* At work we obey the orders of others, of people appointed above us without our consent. That is: of tyrants.
* The profits we make at work are taken away by stockholders and senior executives, and not returned to us. That is: are stolen.

[Finally at least, something about work being crappy, but only in the most general sense that everyone with half a brain knows. Might just depress people.]

Quote:
To speak bluntly, we are slaves. We are slaves by day to capitalists whom we do not control, and whose interests are opposed to ours, and as part of a capitalist system from which we benefit from only indirectly.

[Calling us slaves belittles actual slavery, but more importantly, no workers I know living in the suburbs thinks of themselves as a slave, not in a way that implies militancy. And try to tell a black worker in the U.S. they are a slave today, especially if you are not black. I would not wish that on you.]

Quote:
We are controlled, during working hours, by corporations, which although creations of our society’s legal system, in fact operate as private tyrannies, accountable to no one but their senior management or (in extreme conditions) stockholders.

[Populist language always has this problem, that is transposes the problem from capital to particular capitals: big capitalists/corporations, leaving the little capitalists off the hook. Also, corporations were defined as legal entities by the state, but they were not created by the state. They are a logical extension both of the centralization of capital, and of contractual relations as a mode of existence of capital.]

Quote:
As socialists, we seek to replace this system with one where we are free individuals, no longer subject to the tyranny of owners.
A BETTER WORLD
Is a better world possible? What would it look like? What can we do to help advance towards it?
Socialism in a past age believed it held the answer to those questions. With state socialism, workplaces were nationalised and placed under central government control. But that proved to be a false path for socialism - all it did was replace capitalist bosses with state tyrants. State socialism managed the impossible - it was even worse than capitalism. Its destruction by popular revolutions twenty years ago was a great achievement.

[Aside from playing to a certain anti-communism, as if the USSR was worse than fascism, I would not call its destruction a “great achievement”. Insofar as it was achieved by the reintegration of those countries into the global market rather then by the abolition of those regimes by the workers, it has been a travesty and has had deeply reactionary political effects. The whole paragraph smacks of anti-communism.]

Quote:
Unfortunately capitalism remains in place, with lack of freedom in our workplaces, inequality, mass unemployment, and poverty.
But let us not wallow in the valley of despair. Capitalism is not the only option. We can have a world where we have freedom, justice and democracy in our work places and at home. To avoid any danger of the false turn of state socialism, government should be reduced to the tiniest size and power humanly possible. Communities should organise themselves through neighbourhood level assemblies.

[I like the decidedly Christian feel of “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.” Freedom, justice and democracy – abstractions and jargon – just petty bourgeois jargon. Also, as far as this avoiding the danger, the tiniest possible government thing, that is not a critique of the state, but the worst kind of populist localism. In the US, that goes hand-in-hand with the most vicious racism and anti-working class attitudes and politics. Plus it smells like “small is good” nonsense, which hides from the question of the nature of the state.]

Quote:
We want a world where there will be no bosses, politicians or bureaucrats. A society which will be run in a really democratic way by working people, through councils in the workplaces and community. We want to abolish authoritarian relationships and replace them with control from the bottom up - not the top down.

[Authoritarian is jargon. And your reference to local councils only begs the question of how those councils relate on a large scale, and who owns the means of production. The workers in the neighborhood? What about workers who don't live in the neighborhood? Will they employ outside workers? Will they not allow workers from the outside? Will workers from outside the neighborhood be given a say in the workplace? Will all workplaces suddenly be local? Does that mean that your choice in life is to work in whatever workplaces are available to you and no others, unless you get permission from another community to come and live there? Will each community determine whether people can move freely in and out or will they have no jurisdiction over this community they supposedly run? What if they don't like Mexicans or Turks or black people or white people? Maybe you have never lived in a small town, but it is the most narrow, pathetic, tyrannical existence. How will you deal with real workplaces where tens of thousands of people coordinate global production chains? Or are you also ready to throw us back to a pre-20th century standard of living?]

Quote:
We want a world where our government is local and accountable and truly 'by the people, for the people'. A world where democracy is direct and real.

[This is old fashioned U.S. New England liberalism, from the immediate post-Revolutionary War days. Maybe they don't let you guys learn about that in England. “Town Hall democracy” its called here.]

Quote:
We want a world where we do not work for the profit of others, but for our own benefit.

[eh, ok.]

Quote:
We want a world where we keep whatever profits our work produces, rather than giving it away to absentee owners.

[If you aren't exploited, you don't produce profits. Or is this just petty proprietor socialism? If that isn't a load of utopian

Quote:
We want a world where the management of our firms is accountable to us, not appointed by strangers.

[Why do you want management and firms? Now you are at small Kwame Nkrumah and Kenyan Ujaama socialism.]

Quote:
We want a world where there is full employment - that large numbers of people were not kept semi-permanently unemployed, and wasted to society. We want a world where there is no more poverty.

[I want a world where quality of life is measure in free time, and the actual self-development of human beings as social individuals, not the promise of eternal “employment”. New boss, same as the old boss.]

Quote:
In such a world, we would live lives as full human beings, not as waged workers under the control of an outside agency, and not as consumers passively consuming from what we are offered by external corporations. Our cities would be communities of neighbours. Our lives would be better balanced between life and work.

[Bit flowery. Even so, don't see how you get from the above to this.]

Quote:
FIGHTING TO WIN
Our concept of libertarian socialism is based at a grassroots level, and engages with communities on their terms not ours. Socialists should try and help build their local community into a better place to live in - through whatever means our energies and imaginations can come up with. This is a far cry from seeking to lead or lecture people, or standing outside existing communities as a separate political entity who only appear on stalls or around the doors looking for votes, money or new members.

[Engaging with 'communities'? Communities under capital are rotten, filthy bugger-alls. God I hate community activisty bullshit. Left to themselves, local communities in the US are a nightmare. The white communities, well, fuck that would be bad on every level. In the black community, parents would claim the right to walk into schools and beat their children and separation of church and state would go right out the window. Class struggle damn well better destroy the so-called communities we have today because they are a fucking noxious mess. In parts of the US and places like Brazil, you'd be dead in a few minutes in these “communities” of the poor.
And quit the bullshit. You damn well are telling people what to do. Small is good. Direct democracy is good. Corporations are bad. Bureaucrats are bad. Big government is bad (same thing the far right says in the US.)]

Quote:
In our concept of libertarian socialism political organisations exist not to take power for or by themselves but exist to facilitate a movement for change, working side by side with individuals, community and workplace organisations, and even other political parties.
We believe in fighting to win. Our short term plans of campaign shall be geared towards achievable goals. We seek to put pragmatism ahead of idealism.

[That made me laugh. I was in this horrible little hodge-podge of a group in the mid-90's that used the slogan “Fight to Win”, back when I was still half a Trot. Typical, stupid shit. I admit, this will be very popular with certain kinds of activists, as long as they don't see you as pissing on their turf. This is so banal it hurts my teeth.]

Chris

thugarchist's picture
thugarchist
Offline
Joined: 26-11-06
Jul 4 2007 00:30
redtwister wrote:
back when I was still half a Trot.
Chris

First person ever that was better as a trot!

syndicalistcat's picture
syndicalistcat
Offline
Joined: 2-11-06
Jul 4 2007 01:47
Quote:
Ordinary working people produce all the world’s wealth. So we ought to enjoy the benefits. But a great slice of the benefits are taken from us by capitalists, by landlords, by state governments. It is they who control the world’s wealth, and they who control our places of work. But it is rightfully our wealth, and our places of work.

Is "state government" intended to be different than some other type of government? The state isn't just about participating in our exploitation. It's an institution with certain roles.

I would argue that ownership isn't the only way that people can have power over us in work. Managers and top professionals who design jobs and participate in the way things are set up also dominate us, and gain high incomes that means they also participate in our exploitation. I'd say there are three main classes, not just two. But you don't explain "class". You also don't talk about the process of struggle, that can be the basis of change. That is, you don't talk about the class struggle. You don't lay out clearly what your strategy is to get to the libertarian socialist alternative.

Quote:
When we are at work we must obey the orders of people appointed over us, who are not accountable to us or elected by us. And the profits we make are taken from us and handed over to wealthy strangers who have done none of the work.

But don't we have a deeper critique of the way that jobs and the division of labor are designed by capitalism than this? Why do people hate their jobs?

Quote:
Why do we work for benefit of others?

working for others is inevitable in any system of social production. that's what socially necessary work is. maybe you mean being forced to work to build up the power and wealth of people who force us to work under them, for them. our work activity and what it produces are not controlled by us.

Quote:
Why do we let them order us around? Because we are no longer free people (just try and refuse the orders of you boss some day at work if you want to find out how free you really are). Two hundred years after the abolition of serfdom and slavery, the institution of equality before the law and of democratic government with human rights, we find that we have now lost our freedom again.

we weren't free 200 years ago, as someone else pointed out.

Quote:
Our situation is truly horrible:
* We go to work for most of our productive waking hours, and for most of our lives;
* At work we obey the orders of others, of people appointed above us without our consent. That is: of tyrants.

Being subject to a hierarchy where we have no say is a tyrannical institution, but the individuals do not have to be personally nasty or tyrannical.

Quote:
* The profits we make at work are taken away by stockholders and senior executives, and not returned to us. That is: are stolen.

This isn't the only way we're ripped off. The concentration of managerial authority and of the conceptual and design work into a hierarchy under-develops the potential of the working class, and educational systems that track people to "fit" this hierarchical scheme are another part of it.

Quote:
To speak bluntly, we are slaves. We are slaves by day to capitalists whom we do not control, and whose interests are opposed to ours, and as part of a capitalist system from which we benefit from only indirectly.

We are controlled, during working hours, by corporations, which although creations of our society’s legal system, in fact operate as private tyrannies, accountable to no one but their senior management or (in extreme conditions) stockholders.

well, the control of the stockholders isn't just in extreme situations because the major owners are tied in to the boards of directors, and the structure of the system keeps management working to fulfill capitalist aims.

Quote:
As socialists, we seek to replace this system with one where we are free individuals, no longer subject to the tyranny of owners.

A BETTER WORLD
Is a better world possible? What would it look like? What can we do to help advance towards it?

Socialism in a past age believed it held the answer to those questions. With state socialism, workplaces were nationalised and placed under central government control. But that proved to be a false path for socialism - all it did was replace capitalist bosses with state tyrants. State socialism managed the impossible - it was even worse than capitalism. Its destruction by popular revolutions twenty years ago was a great achievement.

all of this makes it radically unclear what the word "socialism" means.

Quote:
Unfortunately capitalism remains in place, with lack of freedom in our workplaces, inequality, mass unemployment, and poverty.

Capitalism is also destroying the ecosystem, and has many other nasty traits.

Quote:
But let us not wallow in the valley of despair. Capitalism is not the only option. We can have a world where we have freedom, justice and democracy in our work places and at home. To avoid any danger of the false turn of state socialism, government should be reduced to the tiniest size and power humanly possible. Communities should organise themselves through neighbourhood level assemblies.

I don't understand your use of "government." Earlier it seemed you were making a distinction between governance in general and the state. But here you don't. Shouldn't you offer some view about why the state is as it is? In other words, i don't see why you talk about the "size" of the government being the problem. Isn't it a question of having a different kind of institution?

Quote:
We want a world where there will be no bosses, politicians or bureaucrats. A society which will be run in a really democratic way by working people, through councils in the workplaces and community. We want to abolish authoritarian relationships and replace them with control from the bottom up - not the top down.

"Council" is jargon unless you mean something like your local city council which I doubt.

Quote:
We want a world where our government is local and accountable and truly 'by the people, for the people'. A world where democracy is direct and real.

We want a world where we do not work for the profit of others, but for our own benefit.

We want a world where we keep whatever profits our work produces, rather than giving it away to absentee owners.

Would there still be "profit"? Your idea of what you plan on replacing capitalism with is rather vague, and long on rhetoric.

Quote:
We want a world where the management of our firms is accountable to us, not appointed by strangers.

It's not sufficient that "management" is "accountable." If the workers don't manage themselves, if there is a separate hierarchy of managers and top professionals, as has often evolved in large cooperatives or in Yugoslav "self-management", e.g., you'll still have a class system.

Quote:
We want a world where there is full employment - that large numbers of people were not kept semi-permanently unemployed, and wasted to society. We want a world where there is no more poverty.

Aren't there other things we want? What about gender equality? No imperialism? No racism? Ecological sanity.

Quote:
In such a world, we would live lives as full human beings, not as waged workers under the control of an outside agency, and not as consumers passively consuming from what we are offered by external corporations. Our cities would be communities of neighbours. Our lives would be better balanced between life and work.

FIGHTING TO WIN
Our concept of libertarian socialism is based at a grassroots level, and engages with communities on their terms not ours. Socialists should try and help build their local community into a better place to live in - through whatever means our energies and imaginations can come up with. This is a far cry from seeking to lead or lecture people, or standing outside existing communities as a separate political entity who only appear on stalls or around the doors looking for votes, money or new members.

In our concept of libertarian socialism political organisations exist not to take power for or by themselves but exist to facilitate a movement for change, working side by side with individuals, community and workplace organisations, and even other political parties.

We believe in fighting to win. Our short term plans of campaign shall be geared towards achievable goals. We seek to put pragmatism ahead of idealism.

okay but it's really short on strategy. i don't really know what your strategy is, or understand what this division of labor is you've just tried to describe.

Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
Offline
Joined: 6-05-05
Jul 5 2007 18:07
Quote:
Aren't there other things we want? What about gender equality? No imperialism? No racism? Ecological sanity.

Without an inclusive diversity and equal opportunities statement, alongside a properly worded waste management policy, it’s all a waste of time. After all, the whole point of socialism is to protect the weak, vulnerable and disadvantaged from exploitation by mean people who just don’t care about the special innocence of victims.

Quote:
it's really short on strategy

Aims and principles are meaningless, the path is the goal. Having perused similar emissions before, I suspect the strategy is to form a popular “electoral” bloc which devolves law making to Neighbourhood Assemblies in the hope they’ll implement a Schweikartian market socialist programme rather than abolish tax and raise a petition to expel immigrants. We wait with baited breath. Makes you wonder though, you’d have thought the Swiss would’ve seized the opportunity offered by such a forward looking agenda, and yet they choose to soldier on under the yoke of capitalist oppression.