Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft)
The problem of day one of the social revolution
The essential objective of the labour movement and its struggle is the foundation, through revolution, of a free, egalitarian anarcho-communist society based upon the principle: “From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs”.
However, such a society in its completed form will not come about of itself, but only by dint of radical social change. Its realization requires a more or less prolonged social revolutionary process, one steered by the organized forces of victorious labour along a specific path.
Our task is to point out that path here and now, to determine the positive, practical problems that will confront the workers from day one of the social revolution. The very fate of the social revolution will hinge upon proper resolution of these problems.
It goes without saying that the construction of the new society will only be possible after the workers have triumphed over the present bourgeois capitalist system and its representatives. The construction of a new economy and new social relationships cannot be begun until the power of the State defending the rule of slavery has been smashed, until such time as the industrial workers and peasants have taken charge of the country’s industrial and agrarian economy by way of revolution.
As a result, the very first task of the social revolution is to destroy the State machine of capitalist society, to strip the bourgeoisie, and more generally, all socially privileged elements of their power, and to universally establish the will of the rebellious workers as articulated in the underlying principles of the social revolution. This destructive and belligerent side of the revolution will merely clear the way for the positive tasks that are the true meaning and essence of the social revolution.
Those tasks are as follows:
- To find an anarchist solution to the problem of the country’s (industrial) production.
- To resolve the agrarian question in the same manner.
- To resolve the problem of consumption (food supplies).
Bearing in mind that a country’s industry is the result of the efforts of many generations of workers and that the various branches of industry are closely interconnected, we look upon production in its entirety as one big workshop of the producers, completely belonging to the workers as a whole and to no one in particular.
The country’s productive machinery is a whole and belongs to the entire working class. This determines the character and form of the new system of production. It too is to be a united whole, common in the sense that the products, manufactured by the producers, will belong to everybody. Those products, of whatever type they may be, will represent the general supply fund for the workers, from which every participant in the new system of production will receive everything that they may need, on an equal footing with everyone else.
The new system of production will utterly dispense with wage slavery and exploitation in all their forms and will in their place establish the principle of comradely cooperation between workers.
The intermediary class which in modern capitalist society performs intermediary functions (commerce, etc.), as well as the bourgeoisie, will have to play its part in the new system of production on the very same footing as everyone else. Otherwise, these classes will be placing themselves outside working society.
There will be no bosses, neither entrepreneur, proprietor nor proprietor-State (as one finds today in the Bolshevik State). In the new system of production, the functions of organization will devolve upon specially-created agencies, purpose-built by the working masses: workers’ councils, workplace committees or workers’ administrations of factories and plants. These agencies, liaising with one another at the level of municipality, province and then country, will make up the municipal, provincial and thereafter general (federal) institutions for the management and administration of production. Appointed by the masses and continually subject to their supervision and control, these bodies are to be constantly renewed, thereby achieving the idea of genuine self-management of the masses.
Unified production, in which the means of production and their output belong to all, with wage slavery replaced by the principle of comradely cooperation and equality of rights for all producers an established fact, production overseen by workers’ administration bodies elected by the masses: these are the practical first steps along the road to the realization of anarchist communism.
The problem of consumption will arise during the revolution as a dual issue. Firstly, the principle of establishing sources of food supplies. Secondly, the principle of the distribution of these supplies.
As far as the distribution of food supplies is concerned, the solution to this question will hinge primarily upon the quantity of goods available, the principle of expediency, etc.
In tackling the reconstruction of the entire established social order, the social revolution thereby assumes an obligation to look to everyone’s essential needs. The sole exception will be those who do not work, who refuse to play their part in the new system of production on counter-revolutionary grounds. But, broadly speaking, and with the exception of this last category of people, all the needs of the entire population in the region where the social revolution has taken place will be met out of the revolution’s general stock of food supplies. Should the quantity of goods prove insufficient, they will be allocated according to need, with priority being given to children, the infirm and workers’ families.
A more difficult problem will be that of organizing the revolution’s general stock of food supplies.
Without a doubt, in the early days of the revolution, the towns will be affected by shortages of some of the basic essentials required by the population. At the same time, the peasants will have an abundance of the produce in short supply in the towns.
For anarchists, there can be no doubt as to the mutuality of relations between workers in the towns and workers in the countryside. Anarchists believe that the social revolution cannot be accomplished except through the concerted efforts of the workers and the peasants. Consequently, the solution to the problem of consumption in the revolution will be possible only through close revolutionary cooperation between these two classes of workers.
In order to establish this cooperation, the urban working class, having assumed control of production, must immediately consider the basic needs of those in the countryside and endeavour to supply them with everyday consumer goods as well as the means and instruments for collective cultivation of the land. Gestures of solidarity from the urban workers in fulfilling the needs of the peasants will elicit a like response, and in return the peasants will collectively supply the towns with the produce of rural production, in particular foodstuffs.
General worker-peasant cooperatives will be the primary organs for satisfying the food requirements and economic needs of town and countryside. Later, given the responsibility to handle a wider and more regular range of tasks, most notably for supplying everything necessary to support and develop the economic and social life of the workers and peasants, these cooperatives can be converted into permanent supply agencies for town and country.
This solution to the food-supply problem will enable the urban proletariat to establish a permanent fund of provisions which will have a favourable and crucial impact on the fate of the the new system of production.
In the solution of the agrarian question, we consider the peasant workers – those who exploit no one else’s labour – and the wage-earning rural proletariat as the main revolutionary creative forces. Their mission will be to carry through the new re-division of lands, so that the land may be put to use and cultivated along communist lines.
Just like industry, the land, tilled and cultivated by generations of workers, is the product of the efforts of these workers. It also belongs to the working people as a whole, and to no one in particular. As the common and inalienable property of the workers, the land cannot be subject to purchase or sale. Neither can it be leased by one to another, nor serve as the means to exploit the labour of another.
The land is also a sort of common public workshop where the working people produce the means of sustenance. But it is a type of workshop where, as a result of particular historical circumstances, every worker (peasant) has become accustomed to working alone, selling their produce independent of other producers. While in industry the collective (communist) mode of labour is vitally necessary and the only feasible one, in agriculture in our day it is not the only feasible method. The majority of peasants work the land using individual methods.
As a result, when the land and the means to work it pass into the hands of the peasants, with no possibility of sale or lease, the issue of how it should be used and what should be cultivated (on the level of commune or family) will not be wholly and definitively resolved right away, as will be the case with industry. To begin with, we will probably resort to both of these methods.
The ultimate pattern of land tenure and land use will be determined by the revolutionary peasantry itself. There can be no external pressure in this matter.
However, since we consider that only a communist society, in whose name the social revolution will be made, can free the workers from slavery and exploitation and endow them with full freedom and equality; since the peasants account for the overwhelming majority of the population (nearly 85% in Russia) and since, as a result, the agrarian system adopted by the peasants will be the crucial factor in determining the fate of the revolution; and finally, since private enterprise in agriculture, just like private enterprise in industry, leads to commerce, accumulation of private property and the restoration of capital, it is our responsibility right now to do all in our power to ensure that the agrarian question be resolved along collective lines.
To this end we should begin now to conduct intensive propaganda among the peasants on behalf of communist land tenure and communist cultivation of the soil.
The creation of a specific peasant union with an anarchist outlook will be of considerable assistance in this undertaking.
In this regard, technical advances will have enormous significance in facilitating the development of agriculture and likewise the achievement of communism in the towns, above all in industry. If, in their dealings with the peasants, the workers operate not as separate groups, but rather as a huge communist collective embracing every branch of production, if they give consideration to the essential needs of the countryside and supply each village, not just with everyday necessities, but also with tools and machinery for the collective cultivation of the land, this will undoubtedly incline the peasants towards communism in agriculture.
Defence of the revolution
The defence of the revolution is also one of the problems of “day one”. Essentially, the revolution’s mightiest defence is the successful resolution of the challenges facing it: the problems of production and consumption, and the land question. Once these matters have been correctly resolved, no counter-revolutionary force will be able to change or shake the workers’ free society. However, the workers will nonetheless have to face a bitter struggle against the enemies of the revolution in order to defend its physical existence.
The social revolution, which threatens the privileges and the very existence of the non-working classes of the present society, will inevitably provoke the desperate resistance of these classes that will take the form of a vicious civil war .
As the Russian experience has shown, such a civil war will not be a matter of a few months, but rather of several years.
As successful as the workers’ first steps may be at the outset of the revolution, the ruling classes will nonetheless retain a huge capacity for resistance for quite some time, and over a period of several years they will unleash attacks on the revolution, trying to snatch back the power and privileges that have been taken from them.
A sizeable and well-equipped army, supported by military strategists and backed by capital – all this will be pitted against the victorious workers.
If the workers are to preserve the gains of the revolution, they will have to set up organs for defence of the revolution, in order to field a fighting force that is equal to the task, against the onslaught of the reaction. In the earliest days of the revolution, that fighting force will be made up of all the workers and peasants in arms. But that makeshift armed force will only be viable in the earliest days, when the civil war has not yet reached its peak and the two opposing sides have not yet established regular military organizations.
The most critical juncture in the social revolution is not the moment when authority is overthrown, but the time thereafter when the forces of the ousted regime unleash a general offensive against the workers, when the gains that have been achieved must be safeguarded.
The nature of that offensive, the weaponry used and the course of the civil war will require that the workers create specific military revolutionary bodies. The nature and underlying principles of these units must be laid down in advance. In rejecting statist and authoritarian methods of controlling the masses, we consequently reject the statist manner of organizing the workers’ military forces, i.e. we reject the principle of an army based on compulsory military service. It is the volunteer principle, in accordance with the basic tenets of anarchism, which should provide the basis for the workers’ military bodies. The revolutionary partisan detachments of workers and peasants during the Russian revolution might be cited as examples of such structures.
Yet voluntary revolutionary service and partisan activity should not be construed in the narrow sense, i.e. as a struggle waged by worker and peasant forces against a local enemy, without coordination in the shape of an overall operational plan, each unit acting on its own initiative. When they are fully developed, partisan action and tactics in the revolution should be guided by a common military and revolutionary strategy.
Like any war, civil war can only be waged successfully by the workers if two principles fundamental to all military activity are observed: unity of operational planning and unity of common command. The most critical time for the revolution will be when the bourgeoisie marches as an organized force against the revolution and will require the workers to have recourse to these principles of military strategy.
Thus, given the requirements of military strategy and the strategy of the counter-revolution, the armed forces of the revolution will inevitably have to amalgamate into a common revolutionary army with a common command and a common operational plan.
That army will be founded on the following basic principles:
- the class nature of the army;
- voluntary military service(all coercion is excluded in the matter of the defence of the revolution);
- revolutionary self-discipline(voluntary military service and revolutionary self-discipline are mutually complementary in every way, and serve to make the revolutionary army psychologically stronger than any state army);
- total subordination of the revolutionary army to the worker and peasant massesas represented by the general worker and peasant bodies throughout the land, which will be created by the masses at the moment of revolution and given the task of overseeing the country’s economic and social life.
In other words, the organ for the defence of the revolution, which is charged with combating the counter-revolution both on the open military fronts as well as on the covert fronts of the civil war (plots by the bourgeoisie, the preparation of rebellions, etc.), will be under the complete control of the highest workers’ and peasants’ productive organizations – it will be answerable to them and under their political direction.
NB: While the revolutionary army must of necessity be structured in accordance with specifically anarchist principles, it should not be regarded as a point of principle. It is merely the consequence of military strategy in the revolution, a strategic measure which the process of civil war will inevitably force the workers to take. But this measure should be the focus of attention even now. It must be thoroughly studied even now so as to avoid any fatal delays in protecting and defending the revolution, for in times of civil war, delays can prove fatal to the outcome of the whole social revolution.
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