What we are fighting for, part 1

What we are Fighting For. A Radical Collective Manifesto
edited by Federico Campagna and Emanuele Campiglio

Chapter 15. Why Do We Obey? by Saul Newman

„The question ‘Why do we obey?’ … remains with us today and can still be considered the fundamental political question. (…) The essential lesson here is that power cannot rely on coercion but in reality rests on our power. Our active acquisance to power at the same time constitutes this power. (…) Servitute is a condition of our own making.“ 146

„This problem of voluntary servitude is the exact opposite of that raised by Hobbes a century later.“ 146

„Wilhelm Reich … pointed to a desire for domination and authority which could not be adequately explained through the Marxist category of ideology. Pierre Clastres … saw the value of La Boëtie’ in showing us the possibility that domination is not inevitable; that voluntary servitude resulted from a misfortune of history (or pre-history)“ 147

„To create new forms of politics – which is the fundamental theoretical task today – requires new forms of subjectivity, new modes of subjectivisation.“ 147

„We can see modern democracy as an instance of voluntary servitude on a mass scale.“ 147

„What makes a reconsideration of anarchist thought essential here is that out of all the radical traditions, it is the one that is most sensitive to the dangers of political power, to the potential for authoritarianism and domination contained within any political arrangement or institution. (…) unlike the Marxist-Leninists, anarchists insisted that the state must be abolished in the first stages of the revolution.“ 148

„the focus of anarchism is on self-emancipation and autonomy, something which cannot be achieved through parliamentary democratic channels or through revolutionary vanguards, but rather through the development of alternative practices and relationshiphs based on free association. … It seems that we are currently in a kind of anarchist moment politically. (…) Radical politics today tends to situate itself increasingly outside the state. Contemporary radical activism seems to reflect certain anarchist orientations in its emphasis on decentralised networks and direct action.“ 148 f.

„I would like to reconsider anarchism though the problem of voluntary servitude. … we can no longer rely on the assumption … that the subject naturally desires freedom. … We therefore need to reopen our analysis of the subject. Psychoanalysis makes an important contribution here by explaining our psychological dependencies on power and our identification with authoritarian figures.“ 149

„Stirner shows that the state is a kind of abstraction of our own power: it exists only because we allow it to exist.“ 150

„The state must first be overcome as an idea before it can be overcome in reality – or rather, these are two sides of the same coin. As Gustav Landauer pointed out, the state was a relation (with oneself and with others) rather than an institution, and ‘we destroy it by contracting our relationshiphs, by behaving differently.“ 150

„Stirner’s distinction between revolution and insurrection: ‘The Revolution aimed at new arrangements; insurrection leads us no longer to let ourselves be arranges, but to arrange ourselves, and sets no glittering hopes on ‘institutions’. It is not a fight against the established, since, if it prospers, the established collapses of itself; it is only a working forth of me out of the established.“ 150 f.

„The insurrection is therefore not only against external oppression, but, more fundamentally, against the self’s internalised slavery. It involves a transformation of the subject and his behaviors, acquiring, as Sorel once put it, ‘the habits of liberty’. This is no doubt a risky and difficult venture, involving a politics and life of active experimentation. (…) To break the seductive spell of power, with its illusions of relative freedom and relative security, requires discipline.“ 151

Chapter 18, Winning the Media War: Why there is no Such Thing as a Bad Protester by Nina Power

„There is a war between the ones who say there is a war and the ones who say there isn’t.“ 176

„For those who believe that there is no war, there can be little explanation for protest, or for unrest, or for anger.“ 176

„the ‘lazy’ student becomes in a matter of seconds the ‘violent’ student, a fear backed up and reiterated by the sentences handed down to a carefully selected few: 32 months for throwing a fire extinguisher that injured no one, 12 months for throwing two balsa wood sticks that injured no one, 16 months for sitting on the bonnet of a moving car and perhaps chucking a rubbish bin: ‘Crimes’ as absurd as their punishment. But their symbolic value is of extreme worth: they give a ‘criminal’ … face to a set of rational demands, and undermine protest. … The demands themselves are lost, deemed meaningless in the face of such ‘thuggery’. Others who would be tempted to come out on to the streets to protest are put off.“ 177

„Fear is the natural medium of the elites, and property the currency: give a man a house, or at least make him think it’s his, even though the bank owns it, and he’ll be your unthinking lap-dog, terrified of those without property, without work, without a future“ 178 f.

„’but what about the facsist ‘right to protest’? Will you defend her ‘right’? If not you are no better than she is!’ The medium-sized liberal has no feeling for context, is a strange nihilist of history“ 179

„Fascists project and articulate in simple terms the status quo, and pretend that they are the only ones saying it.“ 179

„If we admit there is a war, then there is no way we cannot take sides. The fascists are on the other side and we do not have to allow them the freedom to speak and protest“ 180

„The alternative [to participate in the mainstream media, which always already knows beforehand what you will say before you even say it]? To fight the war on multiple fronts: not to fall into the trap of thinking that the mainstream media is the only route, and that when you’re there you’ll be able to do something different – you won’t. If your real work and thinking takes place elsewhere … then this is the battleground where wars will be fought and won.“ 180

„authoritarianism requires daily work, upping the dosage so that the intolerable starts to seem like normality – but nothing can or will replace analysis, contextualisation, history, an alternative model that doesn’t run on fear. It takes many years to break the spirit of a people, to destroy social bonds. We may be on the back foot, having to reconfigure our energy from defensive positions, defending those accused, jailed and pilloried, but such work only clarifies our position, makes clearer where the enemy lies, his weaknesses, and ultimately, how and when he can be destroyed.“ 181

Chapter 20, Direct Action and Unmediated Struggle by South London Solidarity Federation

„If we are to stand any chance of winning the world, we need direct action, self-organisation and solidarity.“ 190

„we must act for ourselves and represent ourselves. Our actions are informed by two closely linked aims:

1. The desire to improve our situation in the day-to-day, through struggle and building different social bonds.

2. The need to put an end to the underlying system of social relations, capitalism.“ 190

„The vast majority of the UK’s population (indeed, of the world’s) are workers.“ 190

„we don’t find the concept of a stable middle class useful.“ 190

„anyone who has to work for a living, or claim benefits, or just scrape by in the margins, is working class.“ 191

„It is in the interest of all workers to abolish work, by which we mean wage labour. We want freedom, both to govern ourselves and to create new social relations. The ruling classes will not voluntarily give up their power, which is why this change has to be a revolutionary one. The state, which emerged with the purpose of running society in the interests of the ruling class, cannot be turned to another use … Rather it needs to be destroyed along with capitalism and its social and economic hierarchies and institutions.“ 191

„’Direct action is a notion of such clarity, of such self-evident transparency, that merely to speak the words defines and explains them. It means that the working class … creates its own conditions of struggle and looks to itself for its means of action. … [instead of citizen: producer] that producer … intends to attack directly the capitalist mode of production in order to transform it, by eliminating the employer and thereby achieving sovereignty in the workshop’ (Emile Pouget, Direct Action)“ 191

„Direct action, as we know it, is a more immediate tactic which can take many forms: strikes, boycotts, blockades, occupations, pickets, go-slows, sabotage, expropriation and social revolution. The power of direct action lies both in its efficacy and in its immediacy.“ 192

„The trade unions in Britain have always generally been against using direct action.“ 193

„Refusing to use direct action is like fighting with one hand tied behind your back, while kowtowing to anti-strike laws takes care of the other hand.“ 193

„our strongest tool: the general strike“ 193

„We favor horizontal organisation which provides democratic unmediated structures of social relations.“ 194

„Self-education leads to self-organisation. … militancy needs to be relearned“ 194

„We reject the idea that day-to-day struggles are somehow subordinate to the struggle for revolution.“ 195

„’It is necessary to organise the power of the proletariat. But this organisation must be the work of the proletariat itself.’ (M. Bakunin)“ 195

„Solidarity is one of our most powerful weapons.“ 195

„One of the most effective forms of solidarity is secondary strike action, which is now illegal in Britain. Secondary action consists of striking in support of other workers in struggle.“ 196

„With the globalisation of capitalism we have become more vulnerable to attacks. We have to respond in turn with global solidarity.“ 196

„In this moment of crisis and class confrontation the stakes are high and how we fight will affect generations to come, even if we do not win.“ 196

„We need to be spreading anarcho-syndicalist methods and ideas and creating struggles, however small, that use direct action and bring about improvements in our lives. In time, these struggles will escalate and broaden, with the aim of bringing them together to create a workers’ movement capable of challenging capital and state.“ 197

V. Damier, Anarcho-Syndicalism in the Twentieth Century, 2009.

R. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice, AK Press 2004

E. Pouget, Direct Action, Kate Sharpley Library 2003

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