On Organization and Oppressive Social Relationships: Building a Revolutionary Movement

A revolutionary movement is needed and must be built in order for us to free ourselves and we need to build solidarity with each other and oppressed people everywhere -- with that being said, we also need revolutionary organization.

On Organization and Oppressive Social Relationships: Building a Revolutionary Movement

by Joaquin Cienfuegos (SCAF-LA)

On Organization

I think we need to change the oppressive social relationships while we're building a revolutionary organization and a revolutionary movement.

Some anarchists do focus only on the organization and not on the actual politics, revolutionary vision, or challenging capitalist social relations.

They take on an obscure anti-statist position, without looking at imperialism and the specific conditions that have devoloped because of capitalism. For example, in the US, one cannot just take on the issue of class, with out discussing issues of culture, race, gender -- because this is how capitalism has developed -- on the backs of racially, culturally, and all oppressed people and with a white heterosexual male supremacist ideology.

These are the specific conditions to the US.

The solution to these problems and strategy should be always a topic and priority in revolutionary organizing. The overall strategy should come from our actual experience in collective experience in struggle -- not from sitting in a room theorizing. Theory is complimentary to our actual experience in struggle. Organization I think is necessary to actually carry out the revolutionary process -- otherwise we will not be successful in defeating imperialism.

At the same time we cannot become who we are trying to defeat in the process, we should not take on the oppressive social relationships that exist and we should not be a reflection of the capitalists. We should build the structures and relationships that we would like to replace capitalism with. This should not be confused with building more national bureaucracies that reflect the state or building a network that is too incoherent to be effective in anything besides within the activist subculture.

The issue of land and regional autonomy is important and I think in different parts of the world where feudal neocolonial conditions exist -- the question of land is key to revolution. The struggle for self-determination is part of the struggle of human liberation in general. In the US and other imperialist countries (there is a difference with countries like the US, Britain, France and other imperialist countries who exploit the people and the resources of the "Third World" through military force) the question of land is different -- because they do not have a peasantry who's livelihood is rooted in land (there's more industrialized agricultural regions in imperialist societies). There are however communities and regions that have develped historically and historically oppressed regions and communities. There is also unevenness between regions and communities -- where there is a lack of resources and great deal of state repression. Those communities are usually working class and people of color communities. Autonomy will give oppressed people, regions, and communities the opportunity to develop their way of life and culture that has been stolen and suppressed because of colonialism.

This though will require organization, and you cannot build revolutionary communities in isolation. These communities can connect, communicate, share resources, unite in tactics and develop a clear vision and strategy (program) to take on the capitalist and imperialist system through a federation. They can connect and build in solidarity with other regions nationally and internationally. A federation will also allow specific regions with specific histories and conditions, for example the South West and the history of the oppression of indigenous people, Chicanos and Mexicanos, the South and the oppression of Black people. Although people of color, women, queer people, working class people, immigrants, are oppressed everywhere there are specific histories and conditions in different communities.

Organizations that are built anywhere in the world should strategize around their own specific conditions -- there won't be one formula for the revolution internationally.

Our organization should have an orientation of humanity fighting for humanity, but within that we cannot eliminate people's histories and their own needs. Oppressed communities should be autonomous and be developed culturally and in other aspects as well.

Social relationships and inequalities will not be destroyed by just building an anarchist organization. Those inequalities and social relationships will still exist in the organization. There will be people who know more than others and have more experience (because people become politicized at different times in their lifes) -- it wouldn't be a problem as long as those individuals do not use these inequalities to dominate (this happens in authoritarian communist organizations especially but some anarchists do this as well). This uneveness in understanding can also be rooted in privilege -- people who have more time to theorize and organize become politicized first and based on their socialization can dominate or empower others.

There are also inequlities in organizations between men and women (most organizations are dominated by men), between different classes (activists tend to be middle class), difference in race (issues seen as legitimate are ones where white people are dominant -- as environmental, anti-war, animal rights issues), difference in sexuality (organizations alienate queer people and do not give room to discuss sexuality).

An anarchist organization specifically is relevant depending on the role of the organization. We shouldn't be trying to convert the masses into anarchists but rather spreading our principles and organizing around our principles while building and helping in the process of the self organization of people and our communities. Helping give people experience in collective struggle, decision making, direct democratic and consensus process, and in revolutionary organizing. As anarchists in particular and revolutionaries in general we still have a lot to learn and we can teach only what we've experienced and the knowledge we have acquired. Developing our theory and our praxis should also be part of the process. In the end, we also have to allow ourselves to experience defeat and not be demoralized by it but continue to develop so we can win and be free.

Building autonomous organizations of the oppressed is the foundation of the revolutionary process and these autonomous organizations cannot be isolated from communities but be integrated to people who do not see themselves as "activists" or as revolutionary anarchists yet. Class consciousness has to be developed among the oppressed and other potential allies as well -- organization can help with this as well as a different form of education that helps people analyze their day to day struggles.

A revolutionary movement is needed and must be built in order for us to free ourselves and we need to build solidarity with each other and oppressed people everywhere -- with that being said, we also need revolutionary organization.