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Reformist revolution?

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Reformists clash with the revolutionaries for years on the methods of struggle against capitalism. The first group is criticized for its strategy of building a new society step by step. Revolutionaries say that it will never happen because real liberation requires radical action and confrontation with the enemy. But reformists say that revolutionary methods are based on short-term changes that lead to violence and it is never possible to predict the outcome of the revolution.

So the conflict about the strategies already takes many years and we see no improvement here. Last week I attended a lecture on these two issues at the Anarchist Bookfair and I spotted that the movement is still in the stagnation in this field. I mean we all know the history: conflicts between Marxists and anarchists, reformism promoted by Edward Bernstein, Spanish revolution or insurrectionary campaigns run by urban guerillas in Germany, Chile or Greece and other countries. There’s more stuff here. It gives a framework for the analysis, but we are at a point in which global capitalism is very strong and dreadful, and all sorts of leftists are considered to be commies and fans of Stalin. This means that there is no time for further doubts and disagreements. We can share our analysis on blogs and Indymedia sites, but it only gives us a little. Mr. Th0rin said to me recently that one of the biggest victories of the current system may be the fact that we are able to write and publish wise essays and books, but we are unable to operate.

Thus, back to our conflicted reformists and revolutionaries, I think we get to the point where both groups are correct.

What’s good in reformism?

Well, if we want to be honest we have to recognize that the movement is weak. Although we have hundreds of organizations, social centres, campaigns, websites and activists involved in every field of struggle, as a WHOLE we are weak. We do not have strong foundations, we do not have a close international cooperation, we do not exist in the mass media (unless there are some riots), we lack the people and money. Capitalism has it all and this is why it is so strong.

If we think about real change we must have SOMETHING. We must have a base to support the change, something that will act as financial and logistical support. We need a global and local solutions, which allow us to organize, gain experience and get involve other people. For example, local activists have some great ideas, they want to meet and start working, but what if they do not have access to any place where they can actually do it? What if they need money, but do not have access to funds which will help them? What if there’s a threat of repression, but there is no one who will protect them? What if they lack skills and do not know anyone who could provide training?

It’s happening now, that’s why so many brilliant projects die before they even get started. Often it happens also that the campaigns which last a long time are simply harmless for the elites. It’s convenient for them. So it’s easy to set up a gardening group but try to reduce dependence on oil for your region. Or try to change the law so that animals were not defined as property. You’ll see how quickly you become a terrorist and public enemy. Therefore, before making big challenges we have to be prepared and have adequate resources (funds, community properties, legal teams, food suppliers, plans, skills, etc.). I know it takes a lot of time and it sounds really reformist but let’s be honest : this has to be built first. Otherwise, how can we even think about the revolution? That would be disaster. A small group of people against the tanks of NATO and the mercenaries from Blackwater? We can actually see a part of it in Greece currently. There are several urban guerillas groups operating in Greece which try to confront the government and wake up the people. However, they do not have the necessary capacity and despite the many actions Greece remains in a big trouble. So after a few years of fight instead of mass support of the population they get lessons of a state terror in prisons.

Anyway at this point the reformist approach is useful. To think about the revolution you must have a social and logistic background to make this possible. But I think that here the role of reformist thinking ends as well. Faith in the parallel construction of an alternative society with no reaction of rulers is simply naive. As soon as they see the threat they will try to fix this. So the entire reformist path leads to a confrontation anyway. At least I don’t see any other way.

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Revolution time

Politicians, capitalists, bankers, elites – or whatever you call them – will not go away just like that. Their wealth is based on power and control. I mean they have invested millions in corporations and they hold shares in businesses exploiting workers, destroying communities or causing the environment pollution. They own dozens of properties and banks, they support the wars, they kill millions of animals every year, they profit from unjust globalization in Third World. At same time they drive big SUVs, fly private jets, staying overnight in hotels $ 3000 per day. Does anyone really think that seeing a threat to their status, they will just give the power to the people in the name of freedom? No way!

Don’t get me wrong here, it doesn’t mean Let’s kill them all. I’m far from that and I’m far from saying that each of them is responsible for terrible crimes. But the fact is that these groups do control the economy and politics. And they do it wrong what affects everyone. Another fact is they do control police and military and in the face of threats to their power they will try to eliminate opposition. It means they will use the police and army if required. And alternative institutions, alternative economics, and finally an alternative society are such a threat. I mean we saw it in so many cases that it is hard to count (Argentine, Mexico, Peru, Greece, Italy, Libya) So if we have a base (tools) ready it will probably get tough now. Never mind whether you’re a hippie or black block member. As soon as the growth of independent projects (e.g. community financial institutions) reaches a certain level the authorities will feel threatened. Then they will react.

Anyway this is where revolutionary thought comes to place. I would like to believe that radical changes can be done peacefully, but it is difficult to imagine it when we are dealing with the violent opponent. The confrontation at some point is inevitable. The problem is, however, that the wrongly run revolution can bring more harm than good. Riots, violence on the streets are no fun, even if it is a part of the struggle for a better life. The revolutionary attitude demands great discipline too, because it is easy to cross the line of morality. I mean the revolution’s aim is to overthrow an unjust system and not to enjoy violence itself. However, we can be sure there would be people who just want to shoot other people. Also because of that the reformist part is important because building alternative places educates society at same time. You get educated earlier through doing things, not during insurection. Otherwise, instead of putting power into the hands of people we may have an explosion of mass killing, robbing, etc. I do not think that violence can be avoided. I mean if you look at history, large social movements always came through the fight to achieve what they wanted. So this is really bad news, but on the other hand is it so better to be oppressed by capitalism? And I know there are a lot of people that don’t feel oppressed. They usually split into two groups, the rich and the unconscious. The last ones need to switch off their TV first. Then they will see we don’t need to take 30 years mortgage to own a house if we don’t want to. And then many other things will get clear (Honey, how could we feed our kids with junk food for over 10 years???)

Redefine strategy

So finally reformists must realize that their method leads to a response of state anyway. It’s better to know that earlier than be surprised and then shocked by brutal response. And revolutionaries need to understand that the struggle is something more than just open and armed resistance. The revolution itself is the moment of climax but to defeat the system you need a broad perspective. Pre-revolution and post-revolution times are just as important. So these two views should be combined not separated.

At the end of day it’s all still theory. Nobody knows what will happen. It is certain that the movement must unite to join together different trends and work out an overall strategy. Resistance must be global as capitalism is global. Of course, these are just words like many others, but without the unification of the various groups we will continue to use corporate laptops to write anti-corporate notes. Without a new strategy, we will never progress. The evolution of the movement is very slow especially if you compare it with the flexibility of politicians and financiers.

And people still do not recognize the environmental pollution, surveillance, junk food, labor relations, economic system and many other issues as something that is destructive to themselves. And if even they do they do nothing about that . They simply lack faith, because no one can propose to them a credible plan for change. So they choose to believe in Obama instead of themselves.

Films & activism

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In recent months I run a quite intensive educational campaign by organizing a series of screenings of films involved politically and socially. They’re connected with lectures and discussions held after the screenings. Some of the movies I watched for the first time, and I think it is worth to mention a few titles, and post a short review. Perhaps it will be useful to other activists in their work.

Let me start by Bold Native, which to me is a big favorite. For me it’s the best film of 2010. The film tells the story of a member of Animal Liberation Front, wanted by the FBI, and his father (the CEO of one of the corporations) who is desperately trying to make contact with him. We find here a range of difficult questions and tough answers; we also find here the truth about the so-called. organic milk and organic eggs, vivisection, farming, etc. The film unobtrusively prompts to think over our choices, our commitment to the conformism based on suffering of thousands of animals. At the same it presents a number of controversial topics such as the use of violence against those involved in animal cruelty, the absurdity of vegetarianism, or double standards. All this is wrapped in a gripping story, excellent camera work, music and directing. I showed the movie twice already, and soon I will show it once again. Each time the reactions were very positive, people were touched, some even shocked, and most inspired by what they saw. A must-see-before-die for everyone!

The Economics Of Happiness is a documentary about globalization and its alternative, namely building a society based on the local economy, ecology and equity. The first part sets out the key features of globalization and its tragic impact on people’s lives in different parts of the world. We are talking about climate change, the environmental devastation, exploitation, drastic Western consumerism and the destruction of local cultures. The second part deals with aspects of local social life. The film presents a pretty interesting alternative, while explaining the mechanisms that can improve the lives of us all. The advantage of the film is a positive message, hope for change that moves between different sequences. The downside is a utopian belief or omission of fact which is familiar to most activists. Building egalitarian alternatives and opposing status quo is always connected with the reaction of corporate and political elites who seek to block any possibility of rejection of capitalism, corporatism, or the monetary system. Just to mention the Zapatistas struggle or Shell To Sea campaign in Ireland, which has been well documented in The Pipe movie and the book Once Upon A Time In The West. The lack of a theme for me is a big omission on the part of the filmmakers.

At the end, well-promoted another part of the Venus Project Zeitgeist: Moving Forward. Unfortunately, despite much promotion of it, this production is a disaster. We are dealing here with nearly three hours long document, which consists mainly interviews with people from diverse fields. Although quite interesting issues rose in the film, such as genetics, the monetary system and a more anti-capitalist expression of this (third) part, the film is simply boring. It’s more a propaganda tool of the Venus project. Futuristic solutions proposed by the authors do not convince viewers, often seem unreal and far from the expectations of people. In the discussion after the film it turned out that nobody liked it. It is worth noting that at least half of these people would have seen the previous parts. The only good aspect of the film is a thorough critique of neo-liberalism, the banking and monetary system. But I’m afraid it is all what it can offer.

Series of lectures and screenings

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Information for those who live in Dublin and the surrounding area and in County Wicklow. In December, I begin a series of lectures and film screenings on the animals rights, veganism, globalization, women’s rights, consumerism, capitalism, and anarchism. Some of them will be held in Dublin, and others in Greystones (30km from Dublin). Below is a list of confirmed events:


BOLD NATIVE
IRISH PREMIERE

Bold Native is a fiction feature film. Charlie Cranehill, an animal liberator wanted by the United States government for domestic terrorism, emerges from the underground to coordinate a nationwide action as his estranged CEO father tries to find him before the FBI does. The film simultaneously follows a young woman who works for an animal welfare organization fighting within the system to establish more humane treatment of farmed animals. From abolitionists to welfarists, Bold Native takes on the issue of modern animal use and exploitation from several angles within the context of a road movie adventure story.

11th December 2010 (Saturday)
8pm
The Happy Pear
Church Road
Greystones
Free screening
Free vegan sweets
Skype conference with film makers
A letter writing table (optional)

8th January 2011 (Saturday)
8pm
Seomra Spraoi
10 Belvidere Court
Dublin 1
Free screening
Free vegan sweets
Skype conference with film makers
A letter writing table

A lecture about globalization, consumerism, corporatism, capitalism vs anarchism, mutual aid, positive living

15th January 2011
8pm
The Happy Pear
Church Road
Greystones

The plan is: film screening, lecture.

Film screening and lecture about veganism and plant-based diets

12th March 2011 (Saturday)
8pm
The Happy Pear
Church Road
Greystones

The plan is: film screening and lecture run by a nutritionist.

Animals need anarchism

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With hundreds of proofs, everybody can see the situation of animals in the current politico-economic system. You can easily see yourself how animals suffer and how they are cruelly treated in slaughterhouses, laboratories or on farms, that they are victims of the industry and pathology present in all industries that earn profit from their death and vulnerability. After reading these materials we can come to only one conclusion, namely that the cases of brutality are not isolated cases, but it’s the standard, indeed normality, which underlies the production of meat, milk, eggs, clothes or cosmetics.

Veg(etari)anism and activism

Fortunately, despite the vast scale of these things, there are many people sensitive to the plight of animals and they don’t remain passive in this matter. Some people give up animal products, becoming a vegetarian or vegan, others go further by becoming animal rights activists. So they get involved in defending animal rights not only in the privacy of their homes or while shopping, but also on the streets, universities, and protests during the lectures and most of all while risking their own freedom during direct actions, with the goal of releasing the imprisoned animals. There are created large, international campaigns promoting veganism, lots of teams collect evidences of bestiality, boycotting a company, lobbying new bills, get the support of celebrities. There are a multitude of large and small, legal and illegal initiatives, fighting against cruelty to animals. All this shows the great potential and creativity of the activists. However, despite the operation of such well-known organizations like PETA and radical factions of the movement such as the Animal Liberation Front – the animals still suffer, breeding industry develops, the environment is destroyed by the producers of animal products. Although ALF freed hundreds of mink, dogs, cats, monkeys, despite the fact that other organizations have led to the closure of some businesses and the arrest of their staff, the exploitation of animals is still in great condition. And there is no indication of imminent salvation for all beings, detained and murdered in tragic circumstances.

The need for politicizing the proanimal movement

Analysing this topic we can hypothesize that this situation is caused by lack of broader understanding of animal issues, the lack of deep political and economic analysis which would illustrate the reasons for this state of apathy. It seems that most organizations and activists remain focused on specific places, companies, people involved in the violation of animal rights, and those who got politicized themselves continue to remain a minority. Of course, the fight against local criminals is very reasonable and sensible. The thing is, however, that even if you shut down one farm, in its place will be another one, more privileged and protected by politicians. For example the lobbists working for firms responsible for animal cruelty pushed the law giving the possibility of treating ALF members (which operates non-violence) as terrorists. Politicians and managers put profit first and they only know the math, not ethics.

The problem is therefore not a farm, but the system that supports thousands of such farms. The problem is not a lab, but the fact that vivisection was ratified by governments. The problem is not lack of laws, but the fact that the law is written for the benefit of the corporations and big businesses. The problem is the pursuit of profit at any cost, the problem is selfishness and conformity implanted at a young age, the problem is the massive production. It all adds up to capitalism.

So after decades of boycotts and promoting vegetarian or vegan diets, the response to the slaughter of animals should be politicized proanimal movement; an active struggle against capitalism and its legacy. This obviously refers to radical changes, not another reforms or amendments to laws. It’s about changing the way of thinking and directing it to the path of self-organization, which operates on the principles of freedom and ethics. And here comes the anarchism, which is the doctrine that allows people to freely influence the reality in which they live. In practice, this means greater control over the form of economy and society. This in turn allows you to push the ethical treatment of animals or animal products progressive elimination at the discretion of local communities. Of course, it is difficult to expect that the world would be vegan. But surely anarchist traditions make it possible to make local changes, which usually is blocked by the authorities or the pursuit of profit. This dramatically increases the chance of animal liberation. Especially that anarchism rejects any power which claims the right to govern other beings, who tells us whom we have to eat, what should we believe in or how should we live. Instead there is the possibility of forming such a reality that no harm comes to other people or other beings. The reality is dependent on us. Especially considering that anarchism puts in the first place morality and responsibility, and contemporary revolutionary thought considers the issue of animals as one of the key issues. In contrast to the rhetoric of neo-liberals rejecting the ideology, and focusing solely on market mechanisms.

Not acting as any political force, but only by organizing ourselves in associations, NGOs and voluntary groups we are condemned to failure. To help the animals it is required to destroy the system that exploits them, and then build a self-organized societies, functioning on the principle of equality and ethics. The key thing is to build a political alternative in which the animals will be defined as a substance having the right to freedom, where they will not be slaves living only to continue conformist habits of people. It will not take a day and there is no guarantee it will work but at the end of day it is the only way to go.

Capitalism by Michael Moore

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Yesterday I had a chance to watch Michael Moore’s latest Capitalism: A Love Story. This document should become a must for all those who entrust politicians, banks and financial institutions, living in the belief that the current system of democracy is the result of natural or social order. There were dozens capitalism critics written or filmed by different people. I’m myself the author of at least a few. Why, then, Moore’s film is so special? Well, because it shows what capitalism is in practice, he exposes it and shows as it is without shining lies of economists. At same time he’s not focused on the statistics, slogans or scientific names which can be found in many studies. In return, Moore shows the individual stories of victims of the system: evicted families, laid-off people, dying towns and overall degeneration. The movie fully exposes the corruption of politicians, corporate greed and large-scale corruption. The director shows it simply as it is, trying to even talk with some of the capitalists.

Howver it’s not the end, the movie is not only extensive criticism. The film in fact shows what is most important – an alternative to capitalism. Moore shows the self-organization: several thriving businesses, whose owners are the workers. In these companies there is a direct democracy, collectivism and egalitarian management. You may use several names here, but it’s always the same. As it looks among Argentine workers or Greek anarchists once again we can see broken myths of capitalism like the hierarchy, the need for the boss, or the sacred principle of making a profit in the first place. Now things can look different, the workers-owners of these companies concentrate on the common good, and all decisions are to serve the common welfare, not the President and shareholder interests. Here we come therefore to what the anarchists propose and what they fight for. For example WSM, FAU or IP. We do not need government and bosses in order to develop and perform our work well. Current system can not be adjusted, it needs a radically change and return to the sources, ie the value of sharing and mutual aid which are the force of society.

The film emerges, therefore, revolutionary (and, moreover, true) conclusion. Capitalism is evil and should be eliminated as soon as possible. It is the negation of all true values of life. Its effect on a global scale is the only progressive poverty, exploitation and destruction. We can’t modify it, improve or get rid of some shortcomings, because the system is built to exploit and destroy, its purpose is not to serve people but provide huge income to small groups of bourgeois crooks and rich criminals. So revolution is inevitable, is a natural consequence of enormous harm suffered by ordinary people and thousands animals each day, not only in America but around the world. Our task, however, is to make sure the revolution has not turned into another period of transition. Power to the People!

Written by Kruk

September 23, 2010 at 9:16 pm

A non-utopian anarchism

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You can’t hide the fact that the general seems to see anarchism as an utopia, an invention of idealists that can’t be realized. These comments usually result from an erroneous conviction of the fact that anarchists call for chaos and lack of control, not agreeing with the creation of organizations or associations, and if that was not enough they place their naive belief in human morality. And doesn’t it look like a utopia?

Of course, yes! Except that it has nothing to do with anarchism. These are the myths that have arisen over the years from a variety of reasons. To be exact, unfortunately, some environmental and leftist factions let people believe in these stereotypes. However, to put an end to these allegations of being utopian we need to straight out a few things

Firstly, anarchism is not an antidepressant drug, it won’t cause that every person in the world will be happy and free of existential problems. Secondly, anarchism doesn’t mean chaos, and only calls for a radical change in the organization of society, one that will give control and power in the hands of people. I emphasize the word control. Indeed it is feasible not only in the writings of Bakunin and Kropotkin, but also in practice. Examples from history, which I often mention in previous posts indicate that the self-organized cooperatives, unions or associations existed and still exist, developing the best forms of self-governance and self-contol. The organization of social life and economic development doesn’t need to be based on the handover of power in the hands of politicians, bravely pursuing the interests of the corporation.

Thirdly – the question of ethics. So anarchism doesn’t penetrate specifically philosophical discourse on whether a human is born bad or good. I would say even that, in its assumptions anarchism is more reasonable than the current system, because in the so-called democracy people enrtust in the goodness of a handful of chosen ones, who often respond to themselves , and society has no real control over their actions. I don’t even try to list all examples of what the rulers are capable of as I would probably use the whole capacity of the server if I would be willing to present only the proven crimes. So who is utopian here? What for many is therefore associated with youthful rebellion is in fact a specific doctrine, offering concrete change. It is researched and developed from many years by thinkers and scientists such as Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Abramowski, Chomsky and Black or Thonar.

It is important to realize that the current social order exploits and discriminates masses of people daily, it degenerates them, it forces them into slave labor iincluding children and women, it tortures animals imprisoned in laboratories and destroys everything that is natural. It is therefore our duty to stand together in defense of those exploited as we all benefit from their work and existence. It is our duty to fight for the rights of humans, animals and the rescue of the environment. As we all benefit from their pain and suffering.

I recommend the full details – Anarchism. This is not utopia, but a solution.

Written by Kruk

September 18, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Bombing in Greece

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Greece is on top among the anarchists throughout the world. This is understandable, the movement there is growing ever more, self-organization and protests attract thousands of people, riots break out in different parts of the country attacking the symbols of power and capitalism, and if these were not enough they turned out that the rulers were hiding that the Greek economy is in fatal condition. It irritated people even more and destroyed so little trust in politicians among the public. Recent manifestation of an open war against the state’s institutions are the bomb attacks carried out by radicals from the underground Conspiracy Cells of Fire, which have a proven track attacks on National Bank and Insurance Agency, Parliament, and probably the Ministry of the Press. Without going into a discussion about those attacks, it is worth to emphasize that none of the attacks caused no casualties.

The situation is somewhat similar to that of Germany at the time of intense RAF activity, with the difference that now the self-governing ideas are more expressive and useful, and the crisis discovered the face of capitalism among many of the supporters of neoliberal policies. In short, the Greek society is more conscious and willing to fight for their future. Contrary to the comments of the media business, the resistance in Greece is not the result of hooligans fights or empty vandalism / terrorism, and nothing fell silent after the December riots. It is the ongoing political struggle in the streets, universities, prisons, immigrant camps and many other locations. It is the opposition of the people, struggling with poverty, repression, exploitation and restriction of freedom. Of course, mainstream media are doing everything to make the resistance as the excesses of the vandals, not to mention the political aspect of occurrences, not to mention cooperatives created in different parts of the country. They won’t show hundreds of other projects focused on the democratization of any action. Media didn’t even notice that not only anarchists (aka disgusting terrorists) operate anti-capitalist activism, but also various shades of Stalinists, Marxists and others who want to seize power for “people’s good.”

In summary, events in Greece are the inspiration for anarchists from other countries who are watching with the hope their development and support the growing public resistance. Of course, this may be another brief episode in the history of capitalism and the struggle of anarchists might miscarry (which is, unfortunately, likely), but regardless of how it will end, every fight is the experience and knowledge we gain as well as local and international society. Any revolt, even defeat is a lesson or an inspiration for others. And as history shows the struggle for freedom and justice never ends.

Check out my interivew with the greek anarchist.