Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Notes on a New Proletarian Anarchism

Setting the Stage; Destroying the Scene:

1.)The class that is in the majority within anarchism will continue to pull in those of the same class to anarchism. The class that is the largest will be best suited to talking to those of the same class. The class composition of anarchism is directly related to the racial composition of anarchism. The class that holds control over what the anarchist movement produces; it's newspapers, journals, and other media, will put forward ideas that largely are articulated class positions from that class.
2.)Proletarians within anarchism are the minority. We seek to reverse this. We desire anarchism to be made up largely of proletarians. We desire this because proletarians are the largest segment of society. Proletarians have more of a reason to destroy Capital. However, we are proletarians because of the conditions which are imposed upon us. We seek not an identity, only face the reality of the project which is the destruction of class society.
3.)The proletarian class is made up of those who survive by selling their labor power on the market. It is also made up of those who directly reproduce this system, (housewives, school kids, the homeless, those involved in black market capitalism), yet still own no amount of capital that would allow them exit outside of their class position.
4.)The middle class can be seen the class that acts as a grouping of social managers and specialists that are the intermediaries between the proletariat and the ruling class.
5.)The ruling class is made up of those military, political, and economic elites which direct and control the apparatus of politics, the economy, and the military.
6.)Proletarian culture is almost extinct. Middle class values that seek to destroy the idea of class conflict and our own history and are replaced with their own values of finding the solutions to all problems within the marketplace of Capital and Democracy. Currently, the Left is largely a middle class world in which class violence and confrontation is disdained and participation within the market and politics is championed. The middle class discourse that we hear throughout society claims that the roles of citizen and consumer offer the solution to all problems. The Spectacle shows us that working class people are stupid, oversexed, and quick to become intoxicated. This myth helps to reinforce the idea that only middle class specialists can guide the proletariat in ending their problems, which are their own fault, and will end when the proletariat becoming middle class. The proletariat is denied the reality of its existence, it's history, and thus cannot begin to build a material force that will abolish itself and all of class society.
7.)The proletariat in the United States is divided. The 'devil's bargain' of white supremacy in an effort to break up the possible unification of the class. It established a system in which whites come to a position of racial superiority over the rest of the class. White supremacy must be attacked if class consciousness is to lead to class recomposition that will attack and destroy capital.
8.)Patriarchy and hetrosexism divides the class. Middle class feminism and the GLBT movement seeks to integrate women, queers, and others into Capital and politics. The destruction of class society means the destruction of patriarchy and hetrosexism.
9.)The current crisis has created a massive sweep of proletarianization and with it the possibility of creating class consciousness. Proletarian anarchists are in a much better position to get out their critique to other proletarians than middle class anarchists.
10.)Middle class anarchists should not be excluded from anarchism. Their class position and access to certain resources may prove useful. Our desire to 'proletarianize' anarchism is not a desire to drive them out; it is a desire to build a material force within the class in which we can abolish ourselves. Anarchism has served as a vehicle for the middle class for many years in doing just that; allowing them to abolish their class position. Either by dropping out, creating communities, are doing work as traitors to their class. We wish to abolish ourselves as well; however not by dropping out, but by becoming the force that can intervene in the social war which is class society. While the activity of middle class anarchists has brought many proletarian anarchists into the fold, since we have come over to the other side, we realize how many of us are left stuck in shit.

These are some principles for a new proletarian anarchism:

1.)Revolutionary proletarian propaganda. Much of the current literature that is produced by anarchism does not seek to talk to proletarians; it seeks to talk to other anarchists, many of whom are not proletarians. Proletarian anarchists must articulate their ideas to other proletarians. We must attack and critique the Left. We must give confidence to self-organized and insurrectionary elements within the class. This includes propaganda such as journals, papers, tabloids, online videos, blogs, graffiti and wheatpaste, and more in which we talk about local and global issues.
2.)Constant presence. We must be a presence within proletarian areas in our cities and towns. This means having our literature where people can get it. Having our graffiti and propaganda be visible to other proletarians. It means being a public material force that people know exists and they can come to. This visibility must be constant and build over a period of time.
3.)Intervention and participation. Where there is fire, we must bring gasoline. We must base our practical activity within the tensions that exist within the class; pushing to generalize all struggles, fight the Left, promote and strengthen revolutionary elements, and fight against reactionary forces within the class.
4.)Autonomy. We must make the class our commune. Other proletarians must become our mafia. We already are in the land of “stop snitching,” we are hoping to move towards the land of “permanent conflict with Capital while not snitching.”
5.)Attack. We must push towards conflict with class society; steering away with dialog and making demands to our enemies, or working in concert with class collaborators. We must build the conflictual nature of the class. “Without violence, the class becomes decadent.”
6.)Revolutionary solidarity. When one within the class is attacked, as are all. This cuts across racial, gender, and sexual lines. Actions against segments of the class result in the decomposition of the larger class as well as hurt all our material conditions. We must respond to attacks with attacks of our own. Solidarity means attack.

9 comments:

  1. This is decently argued all around, but in a few places becomes uncritically affirmative or downright ideological. Take point 8. Sure I don't want patriarchy or heterosexism, but how does that mean that the class war will destroy them? Communism is the "real movement that abolishes existing conditions," not a utopian proposal. Just because this proposal takes a destructive, negative form, doesn't mean that it's not akin to a utopian socialism that says "the destruction of class society means that we will will in perfectly ordered communities of 1620 people."

    It's quite possible that the destruction of class society will mean the destruction of patriarchy and heterosexism, but if you want to undermine the ideological content of your writing, you should push a step farther to argue how that will come about, or how they are related. Will the uncontrolled spread of wildcat strikes lead to a breakdown of the gendered division of labor? Will proletarian autonomous zones necessarily become safe spaces for queer expressions?

    Next, is the middle class part of the proletariat or not? Because most social workers, teachers, professors, cops, therapists, etc. also survive by selling their own labor power on the market. Sure, they might own some stocks, but then again, the workers at the auto companies now technically nearly own those companies, right? Given the murkiness of this question, proletarian culture (which you note is dying) was one of the main tools for arbitrarily and positively denying cops and scabs access to proletarian identity. But this kind of culture is exactly the kind of self-affirmation you seem to hope to escape.

    And how does this unclarity affect your point in 9? Who exactly has been proletarianized in this crisis? Former developers and speculators who are now bankrupt? Bernie Madhoff? Peasants who've been driven off their land? Maybe lots of people have been further impoverished, but I'm not sure that the class relation has changed that much, that quickly. If anything, the population is being deproletarianized, as conventional workers become lumpen (a term I'm skeptical of) and permanently excluded.

    Finally, what's up with that quote "Without violence, the class becomes decadent?" Is that early Mussolini? Decadence is a fairly dangerous analytical category to use, and its use can often inadvertantly lead back to machismo (or deadend ultraleft theory). What does decadent even mean here? Consumerist? Weak? Deviant? "Without class violence to man them up, the workers would soon be sucking each other's cocks?"

    More than anything, that statement just seems extraneous, a little inspiring just because it sounds extreme. And for the moment, inspiring, open-ended assertions are perhaps helpful enough when it comes to pointing a way out from middle-class activism. But if we ever want our ideas to not just be inspiring, but actually useful and relevant to proletarian class struggle, we have to become way more precise. That was the one genius of the Italian workerists: they could speak, rather precisely, about the real dynamics occuring within the class struggle, nearly in real time, without too much ideological affirmation.

    Sorry if I've ended up using a harsh tone anywhere in the above, but it's early and I'm at work...Thanks for your contribution, which points in a mostly positive direction.
    -a midwesterner

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  2. wow, i can't believe you quoted me favorably after that last thing. me making yet another lame and half-serious attempt to be funny, no less.

    anyway, i like this post, and the above comment about it. i was gonna ask about this "proletarian culture" of which you spake, because i think to most folks around here that means watching nascar and punching your girlfriend. oops, my petit bourgeois upbringing is showing again :o or maybe it's that i read MD's take on the subject recently; maybe i took it too hard. but i did want to know what that means and how it figures in the proletariat's revolutionary objective, self-negation as such. or is it just something to help us get by in the meantime?

    similarly, this "mafia" thing. i thought we were only gonna laugh at fools who'd decry us as that shit? or are we going to start wearing suits and breaking kneecaps?

    as usual i have almost nothing of sense to say.

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  3. "i was gonna ask about this "proletarian culture" of which you spake, because i think to most folks around here that means watching nascar and punching your girlfriend. oops, my petit bourgeois upbringing is showing again :o or maybe it's that i read MD's take on the subject recently; maybe i took it too hard. but i did want to know what that means and how it figures in the proletariat's revolutionary objective, self-negation as such. or is it just something to help us get by in the meantime?" -

    I assume until Capital is destroyed everything will be done so we can survive in the meantime, to a certain extent.

    By revolutionary proletarian culture, I mean creating (and celebrating what already exists) within the working class that exists to break down the divisions within the class (race, gender, sexuality), all that which aids in our combativeness, and all that which speaks to attack and conflict with class enemies and to our ability to self-organize, deal with things ourselves, etc.

    The growth of sideshows which take over public space and (at least in the case of Oakland occasionally) end in confrontations with the police is one example of part of a culture. There are of course many others not so much.

    Much of the culture that exists within the working class IS reactionary. I go to parties and hear a tone of sexist and racist jokes, even among w/c people who are 'radicals' or 'anarchists,' simply because the 'space' that we are in is dominated by w/c people. We need to highlight the ways in which mutual aid and direct action are already there and destroy the elements which divide us and make us less powerful (and keep us separated.

    "similarly, this "mafia" thing. i thought we were only gonna laugh at fools who'd decry us as that shit? or are we going to start wearing suits and breaking kneecaps?" -

    Churches and gangs by and large represent the largest materialization of working class bodies organized, at least as far as I can see. These are the institutions in which often are there to 'help' or get things done in the lives of proletarians when the state is unwilling or unable, (or in the case of gangs, when you can't call the cops). These are also groupings which have the ability to spread and are also a material force within society, (even upon the state).

    For instance, what if employeers were afraid to do certain things in the workplace because they feared a visit from a certain organization (especially if the workers that were being fucked could not go to the authorities for help - such as undocumented people).

    This is not so far off. I think in France during the time of the first wave of insurrectionary anarchists. I am told that there were anarchists who primarily formed unions, anarchists who killed industrialists and bosses, and even more RAUMian types that wrote songs about anarchists who killed bosses that in turn became popular among working people. Sometimes, it was enough for workers to just sing a song about a murder member of the bourgeois, and and employer would bow about even before a strike was called - in fear. All of this is part of the association that must be constructed.

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  4. appreciate the elaboration.

    whoa, i missed the gasoline line before. i actually wrote a piece called 'where do we kep the gasoline?' that disappeared with my flash drive and the rest of s&s 2.

    cru dog, i have to say that while not stupid or oversexed, you ARE quick to become intoxicated.

    /teasing

    theres a raccoon looking at me...

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  5. I'm undersexed? Fuck! Goddamn, throw me a bone(r) here!

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  6. i mean, i'm just going by your poetry. i didn't mean to suggest you were under-sexy(?)

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  7. vancity representerAugust 11, 2009 at 2:14 PM

    Prole culture means watching nascar and hiting your girlfriend, engine summer? As opposed to your middle class culture which is about snorting coke and beating up a child prostitute before going home to your perfect white picket fence nuclear family? Fuck off with your comment!

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  8. These are my favorite two bits -

    1.)Revolutionary proletarian propaganda. Much of the current literature that is produced by anarchism does not seek to talk to proletarians; it seeks to talk to other anarchists, many of whom are not proletarians. Proletarian anarchists must articulate their ideas to other proletarians. We must attack and critique the Left. We must give confidence to self-organized and insurrectionary elements within the class. This includes propaganda such as journals, papers, tabloids, online videos, blogs, graffiti and wheatpaste, and more in which we talk about local and global issues.

    2.)Constant presence. We must be a presence within proletarian areas in our cities and towns. This means having our literature where people can get it. Having our graffiti and propaganda be visible to other proletarians. It means being a public material force that people know exists and they can come to. This visibility must be constant and build over a period of time.

    I'm not sure about this part though: "We must attack and critique the Left."

    It seems to me some of the time you're like "fuck the left, it's irrelevant" and some of the time you're like "destroy the left, it's an obstacle." Which is it? It seems to me that the left is irrelevant to proles, so why bother to criticize it to proles?

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  9. A large part of the left is irrelevant, but still it's one of the only things that does try and reach out to proles. You'll still get unions coming into try and organize people. The Nation of Islam is a strong player in some communities, as well as some political churches, etc. Look how many people (including my white parents) were into Obama and thought that we offered the possibility of change to working people.

    The Left's carrot is pretty nasty and not that juicy, but it's still there. The Left is often the only visible critism that many people will hear about the current system. We obviously have something much more to say, than just 'managing the disaster.'

    -crudo

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