The Importance of a Liberatory Process: a critique of fetishized militancy

Militancy is revered on the left. Whether insurrectionary violence or mass militancy of social movements, the form and level of militancy serves as a marker of the relative power and progressive nature of a movement. Insurrectionists fetishize either mere acts alone (independently of who does them, groups or individuals) or fetishize violent acts as signs of collective will. Some social movement organizers take militancy to indicate a progressive or revolutionary nature of a movement. Looking at militancy and militant acts alone however is bound to be distorting and lead us down garden paths. A militant event occurs in a social context and through a social process, and these facts bare on the meaning of militancy as a historical phenomenon.

Militancy is generally targeted for a few reasons. One is the outcome. A militant event can have a number of effects. Some analyze these events based on these effects. Spreading radicalism, disrupting power, beating back reactionary forces, etc., these can be taken to indicate the importance or problem with various actions. This is one axis for understanding militancy. Another is the act itself. Work stoppages, illegal strikes, organized violence against capital or the state, anti-police measures, etc., can be viewed as having inherent political content that is thought to either illuminates or stimulates some underlying radical consciousness. Additionally who participates, organizes, and is involved in the act is also seen as important. These factors are those most emphasized, but in fact the crucial element that helps us make sense of militancy, its relevance, and direction, is another thing all together. Continue reading

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The movement to abolish the present state of power: direct democracy, forms, and power

Today society is in transition. Workers in the capitalist core are seeing the stability and benefits that many enjoyed slip away. The relationships that defined the capitalist periphery nations are fundamentally being transformed by deeper integration into the world economic system. The social safety net is being steadily hacked away at, standards of living are declining, and massive wealth transfers to capitalists are being organized by the state in the throws of deep crisis. There’s a growing multitude forced into renewed austerity and discipline, while traditional skilled stable work shrinks with daily attacks.

We live in an era of in which struggles and protagonists are only beginning to emerge. Struggles against dispossession and struggles against exploitation both find expression, and weave into and away from each other.  People are being dispossessed of their given way of life, and this creates a dynamic of struggle at once to preserve the present arrangements and to move beyond them. As the crisis attacks the heart of the exploited laboring class, movements too arise to confront exploitation of time and labor.

With the birth of the indignants movements, the councils, assemblies, and occupations, the cycle of debate around forms and democracy has gained new currency. Direct democracy is on the lips of millions of people across the world.  These discussions (assemblies, consensus, councils, direct democracy, etc.) are framed both by supporters and enemies as being about anarchism.  Continue reading