Rethinking Anarchism


Losing the Battle, Winning the War
November 1, 2010, 2:19 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

” But revolution is the only form of “war”… in which the ultimate victory can be prepared only by a series of ‘defeats.'”

-Rosa Luxemburg,  “Order Prevails in Berlin”  1918

Every year, labor organizations launch hundreds of campaigns to wrest economic gains from employers, and hundreds more campaigns to put pro-labor politicians in office. Many of these campaigns end in victory, others go down in defeat. In the past few decades, the defeats have outnumbered the victories. Much ink has been spilled on diagnosing the cause of the labor movement’s ills. Some theorists focus on objective changes in the system of production, scapegoating outsourcing and the rise of a service economy for labor’s weakness. Others blame the rise of aggressively anti-union management styles backed by right-wing politicians. Still others claim that cultural factors come into play- in the ‘postmodern’ era, new age management techniques have supposedly rendered class struggle obsolete.

Of course, in any struggle there are also tactical decisions that impact the outcome. It’s always possible to say- “if we had only done this instead of that, we would have won!”

But the fact is that we didn’t win. And there will be many campaigns that don’t win, even after substantial changes in the economic and cultural climate. We certainly need to figure out how to win the battles, but we also need to develop a strategy that will allow us to win the war. We are only truly defeated if we refuse to learn lessons from our losses.

What would it mean to win the war? Put simply, victory in the class war would mean the seizure of the means of production by the workers, organized in councils or other democratic organs, and the abolition of the centers of capitalist decision-making, the state and para-state fascist organizations.

The question then, is what would it take to pull this off? First, the working class would have to be organized on a truly global scale. Second, workers would need to have the desire and confidence to kick out the bosses in some kind of general strike or insurrection. All of this depends on the emergence of working class leadership- a rejection of the authority of the bosses from the CEOs, politicians, and bankers all the way down to store managers and supervisors.

How do workers become leaders? I think it’s by getting angry, and seeing their own anger reflected and validated by those around them, and then learning how to fight the bosses. Working class leadership leads to working class autonomy- workers deciding for themselves what is right for them.

As Rosa Luxemburg would say, the road of history is paved with the thunderous defeats of working class autonomy. But with each of these failed revolts, the working class learned lessons about its power, and also about the violence that the ruling class will employ against us to maintain their dictatorship. It is up to us to ensure that the lessons of these battles are carried on in the hearts and minds of a growing body of workers, schooled in struggle, so that every lost battle is a step toward winning the war.

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4 Comments so far
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Dear comrades,
We need not to put things in military terms. The metaphor is not creative anymore. It is better to think in an organic way. As a process, revolution is not «winning or loosing» it is life itself.
And so, when we are pushing for deep transformation in our own and our society lives, then we are committed to, we are agents of the revolution.
Otherwise we will delay in understanding the dynamics of social processes. We need to upgrade our understanding of these complex things as the social dynamics, because otherwise we will fail. A precondition to our success is to reframe the discussion globally so that we and others, many others, can see things otherwise, can therefore open their minds and hearts for a change…
this one change we desire, the new society we wish to legate to our descendency
Thanks,
In solidarity,
Manuel Baptista

Comment by Manuel Baptista

I very much appreciate your use of Rosa Luxemburg’s military terms.

Comment by Kingsley

I like this post and would extend your 4th paragraph to include the objective of transforming the nature and meaning of work.

I also appreciate the recognition that the struggle is a class war.

Don

Comment by Don Hamerquist

Good point, you’re right. Obviously, if the same bullshit hierarchies are reproduced, then we have not in fact ‘won’.

Comment by rethinkinganarchism




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