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An Appeal to American Workers - Articles Surfing
"...man seems to be in a worse state even than the brutes..."
-- Samuel von Pufendorf, "On the Duty of Man and Citizen," Book 1, Chapter 3
For so long, writers of all ages have made their appeals to kings, to queens, to archbishops, saints and popes. When trying to advance their own interests, men of letters would correspond with dukes and rulers of provinces. By contacting those in power, they were confident that their ideals would be expressed to the people in the most succinct and powerful way. Yet, it has been the trend of Anarchists, regardless of era, to make their appeal not to the rulers, but to the ruled -- not to the presidents or the prime ministers to beg for their mercy, but to the workers of the world's nations, and command them to action. Since we are advocates of a certain sense of justice, since we are the prophets of social doom and resurrection, we believe that the cause of the condition of the world is the ruling class and its minions, their state-sanctioned slavery of Capitalism. And, furthermore, we believe that to plead for mercy from those who casually mock the things that stir us, to plead for mercy would be to offer a begging hand to our executioner. For these reasons and more, Anarchists and Freethinkers make their appeals not to kings or queens, not to "sovereign entities" and their mechanized armies, but to the people themselves, that they might liberate themselves and others. It is in such an attitude that I present this piece... An Appeal to the American Workers.
First, when I am speaking to my fellow brethren, my comrade citizens in the United States of America, I want to say this. At first sight of the Communist and Socialist manifestos, their ideologies, the speeches made by their affiliated parties, when I heard these things for the first time, I was in complete disagreement. The language used by these demagogues of Communism was burdened by economic vocabulary. In some works that would be classified as liberal, I've seen the word "aggregate" used five times in a single sentence. Through these bizarre concepts, these overly technical definitions of a so-called sociological science, these "decline in the wage conditions of proletariat" and "bourgeoise distribution of wealth," through all of these is where we hear the call for Communism. I first want to tell my readership that I am familiar with these speeches, these pamphlets, these books, and I am familiar with the awkward and almost inhuman way that they have dealt with the economic question. I have seen men of Socialism do nothing but reprint manifestos and sloganeer, as though their drone-like actions were about to bring about the greatest state of peace, justice, and equity for mankind ever known.
While these socio-economic appeals of Communist and Socialist parties are made to the public, they are often ignored; in a way, they are regarded solely as "preaching to the choir." They use words and phrases that the people are generally unfamiliar with. Their politics are relatively dreary; whenever a new party pops up, its statement of faith seems to be followed a pattern completely uniform with the last party. This is not an attack on those who are unfamiliar with the phrases and vocabulary of Communist theory. Rather, it is an attack on those who are ridiculously stuck with such phrases. To other Communist and Socialist comrades, those who feel that society would be greatly benefited through collective property, I ask this: that these awkward and almost erroneous phrases are abandoned now. Not because they are no longer understood by the common people, but because they were never understood by the common people. People must not be intellectuals that they might be revolutionaries.
With that said, I want to say that I wholly and truly believe in the philosophy of Communism. I am an advocate of the words of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in matters of economics and sociology. In many ways, I divert from the philosophy that they preached. I am also a follower of the words of Mikhail Bakunin, Emma Goldman, and Alexander Berkman -- the late, forgotten Anarchists of yesteryear, whom openly opposed the arguments of Marxian economics. Again, I diverge from their arguments in many ways. I am a follower of the words of Thomas Paine, when speaks of doing justice as man's only duty; I am a follower of the words of Carl Sagan, when his words oppose the claims of religious fanatics; I am a follower of the words of Jean Jacques Rousseau when his words are of the corruptability and weakness of a Republican government -- I am the humble follower of Mark Twain, Margaret Sanger, Voltaire, Charles Darwin, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. But, in so many cases, I find myself in disagreement. Perhaps it would help my Communist brethren to practice a higher degree of skepticism when reading the works of Marxian economists and other political philosophers.
A Revolution -- But Against What?
If we are to take an objective and honest look at the situation in the United States today, we will find ourselves looking face to face with some very grim and ugly facts. Many people are losing their jobs to outsourcing. Corporate scandals are becoming a daily occurence. People have lost complete faith in this system that seems to perpetuate unemployment, poverty, and misery. This is not solely my view, but it is the view of the people. More than half of the country does not vote. There can be only one reason for this: people feel that both political parties and their candidates are incapable of redressing the ailments of this dying nation. Underneath the sloganeering of "rugged individualist" philosophers, underneath phrases like "quarterly corporate gains" and "official company accounting procedures," underneath other phrases that serve to aleniate us from the subject, underneath it all, we become more and more dissatisfied with this country. We are a modern country living in a modern world! Yet, when we open our eyes, we still find so much poverty, so much misery, so much homelessness. We find ourselves face to face with an economic system that nobody has tried to improve upon -- an economic system that is essentially the root of these social ills. In so many years, with such great strides in all studies, we feel that men have inherently left one field untouched, that is, the field that deals with how to create a social and economic infrastructure, so as to remove these undesirable elements. We are not moved by self-interest or snobby intellectualism; we are moved by the interest of all of mankind -- it is our interest to eliminate the suffering of the innocent.
In a 1997 study by the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, for every dollar an employee earned, he made almost six dollars for his employer. [U.S. Census Bureau, 1997 Economic Census, Comparative Statistics, Core Business Stastitics Series, EC97X-C52, issued June 2000.] One dollar of that six earned income goes towards the other expenses, such as replenishing the shelves and electricity. [Business Expenses, 1997 Economic Census, Company Statistic Series, 1997, Issued December 2000, EC97CS-8, US CENSUS BUREAU, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU.] That means, for every two dollars a Capitalist spends, he is given seven dollars back. The investor makes money because he has money, and for no other reason. He is maintained at a situation in life where more money will do him not much better. And while he is surrounded in elegance, lavishness, and wealth, there are millions of children starving to death in our nation. In 1980, the top 1% of the United States owned more than 25% of the nation's wealth, while the bottom 20% do not even own 1% of all the wealth. [U.S. Treasury, Internal Revenue Service. Quoted from Contemporary Macroeconomics, by Milton H. Spencer, Worth Publishers, Inc., Fourth Edition, page 45.] If these facts alone are not enough to disturb anyone of good conscience, then I do not think anything is capable of disturbing them.
I could continue to parade statistics around. I could delve deeper and deeper in to the archives of economic thinktanks, pulling out numbers and equations used to determine the unemployment rate's fluctuation in response to the rate of interest of banks. I could pull up a historical timeline, showing the general decrease of wages in contrast to the general increase of profits. There are at least a million articles that discuss the economic question that I have yet to read; each of them from authors of their own particular background, whether Free-Market Capitalists or Marxian Communists. All of these writers have contributed what discoveries they've made to the intellectual community. They offer their words in defense of the trends or patterns they discover in economic behavior. Some of them are motivated by political causes, whether it's the establishment of Statist Communism or the abolishment of Communist political parties in third world nations. Many of them are motivated by their desire for prestige, to be recognized by the community as men and women of thought -- they figure, that if they can make their words more boring, dull, and formulaic than other authors, they will be recognized as men and women of genius by some university community. Some authors have no interest, except to explore the sociological field, and find out what it is that really moves the economy, to discover what gears and what cogs in society effect what other gears. Yes, I could pull out plenty of statistics and many arguments that these economists have utilized in demonstrating their opinions. But, in this appeal to American workers, I must say what I think: I believe that the average man and woman have enough sense and enough experience to make the decision that the status quo is unsatisfactory.
Consider a radical reorganization of the social structure. For this reorganization to have any merit to it, we must start with the problems we observe. So, then, let's consider the most obvious problems. There are men and women whose job it is to hold signs on street corners, many times dressed in costumes, trying to entice people to purchase goods and services. They make very little money, but there are men and women in corporate firms whose task is essentially the same. Marketing and Sales executives are making six-digit salaries by devising new and different methods for convincing the public to want their goods. Their job basically is to convince people that they want and need things that their own wit and intellect wouldn't ever tell them to purchase. On top of these executives, there are the people of the media, the makers of commercials, billboards, radio advertisements, newspaper advertisements, graphic design for corporate logos; some people spend years doing market analysis, so that they can uncover trends in the consumer choices of citizens and workers. At the top, there are executives and corporate officials, making millions of dollars a year, and at their disposal is an army of Walmart greeters, sales associates, clerks, manager assistants, and other professionals -- all of them solely exist to entice people to buy things that they otherwise wouldn't have wanted in the first place. From this point, we find that the purpose of their existence is to subvert, control, and manipulate the general will of the people. Their meaning to life is inimical to that of a free conscience.
Those people who work in low-wage jobs, spending most of their lives taking orders from supervisors and being criticized for "not having company" spirit -- I cannot blame them. I cannot blame them at all. If being a Walmart greeter was the only job available, if it was the only thing that could help someone support their family or drug habit or pay rent, then I cannot blame them. But to those corporate executives and company officers, these CEOs who control billions of dollars of the world economy, they are responsible for this situation. They have built up a culture of want, consumption, and poverty. Someone looking at it from an objective viewpoint will say that these people are simply useless, they simply do not contribute to society in any positive way, but that is light view of the situation. Not only do sales and marketing associates fail to contribute to society in any meaningful way, but they are parasites; they are the thieves of intellectual liberty. Their fat paychecks are only provided for by the society which they have leached themselves on to. It is not by noble pursuits and honesty that they make their living; it is by avarice and dishonesty.
This is among the first and most notable dilemmas of the Capitalist economy: the advertisement industry. Whether we are looking at corporate executives, or people dressed in chicken suits holding signs on the sidewalk, I think I am making a fair judgment in saying this: these people do not contribute to society in any meaningful or productive way. We see, then, the first common and obvious fault of the Capitalist economy. What is the solution? It's a rather simple and obvious one. Those people who are members of this inhuman industry are to be put to productive work. What does that entail, specifically? Well, those employees who were stripped of their old professions would be put to work in meaningful jobs. In particular, they would start to contribute labor to the economy so as to produce goods and services. That means jobs in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, or transportation and distribution. I consider these fields of the economy to be productive because they contribute in satisfying the interests of consumers. Workers on an assembly line, for instance, are creating products that will be consumed: television sets to be watched, clothing to be worn, computers for hobbyists, CDs and DVDs as entertaining media, tools to help other workers accomplish their jobs, etc., etc.. Members of the agricultural economy are invaluable for one obvious reason: they create the food that feeds all of us. Construction workers produce the buildings that people live and work in; they are simply a different type of manufacturing worker. Transportation and distribution is essential, in getting the products from the site they were produced to the site they will be used at. All of these fields are necessary to a healthy and free society.
I do not want my opinion on this matter to be misunderstood or misinterpreted. My contention is not that it should be made a crime for men and women to use their own intellect to change the opinions of others. I think that the law should reflect a general anti-censorship ethic: whether in matters of politics or economics or religion or philosophy, or any field of study that has been subject to witch-hunts and being burned alive, I think that all should have intellectual liberty. You should have the right to private discourse, to let the thoughts in your mind mix and meld with memories and experiences, to be the ultimate judge and jury of your own opinion; it is the right to decide that you enjoy something as much as it is the right to say that you dislike something. You should also always have the right to publish the results of your private discourse, to speak with other members of the community in a way that reflects your thoughts, to try and convert people to your opinion on anything, whether art and culture or politics and society. The Statists, Fascists, and others of the anti-Democratic tribe will spend hours upon hours, lamenting the tragedies that have occured and will occur again if the people have the right to intellectual freedom. Whatever tragedies have occured from liberty of thought, they shrink to almost nothing, when one thinks of the tragedies that have occured from the suppression of liberty of thought.
We criticize the advertisement industry solely for the sake that it is counter-productive, it works against the general interest and will of all men and women of good character. It invades communities, turning them in to dry husks, destitute of any real sense of culture and destitute of any real sense of purpose. It has turned art into a perversity, exploiting painters and sculptors, taking their passion and molding it into "Buy One, Get One Free!" There is no excuse, no pardon, that could ever be made for this group. However, when we look at the employment of the distribution economy, we find ourselves looking at the same faults that plagued the advertisement industry. Distribution centers, whether they're stores or malls or shopping centers, all of them seem to operate on the same principles that the advertisement industry acts upon. Such an enormous effort is placed on making the products or services look more appealing, so that the consumer is convinced to purchase such items. It also seems as though these distribution centers are having less and less of specific products. Many popular chain stores are a combination of department store and grocery. It seems that almost every store is selling "impulse items" near the counter, including candy and cheap mini-magazines. These impulse items are in every store, whether it's an office supplies store, a furniture store, or even something as simple as a gift card store. Many grocery stores are also selling cooked and prepared food, ready to eat. In their never-ending quest to boost profits and gain stockholder confidence, stores are expanding the line of products that they sell, not to make their selection complete, but to have more income from sales.
Distribution centers in an ideal society would not consist in these elegant settings, with employees who act as greeters or make the store look visually appealing, nor would artists be exploited to create artwork for product packaging. The individuals who fill these positions would be transferred to industry sectors where they can act as productive agents of society. In examining the American and European economy structures, we have here seen the greatest reforms and changes we would enact. That is, the greatest reforms and changes we would enact, if the economy was built to serve the interests of mankind, and not built to serve the interests of private corporations and exploiters of labor. With the abolishment of so many professions, one might think that a massive unemployment might take place. This is not necessarily so. Those who would lose their jobs would be relocated to meaningful parts of the economy. That would mean, that society would produce more goods, at a higher quality, with less hours. Essentially, yearly wages would be doubled and work time would be halved. The happiness and satisfaction with life that men and women have would be increased; that is the basic goal of all this discussion and research.
Ultimately, in this fair and ideal economy, workers would be paid not according to suggestions and manual aids from the corporate office. They would be paid according to the value that they create. Instead of the minimum wage which finds itself the standard of many industrial, farming, and service jobs, workers would be paid upwards of $20 to $30 an hour, a number that certainly can be afforded by the economy. The primary reason why such workers are not being paid this right now is remarkably simple: those who are the legal owners of capital (mines, farms, stores, factories) want as much money from their business ventures as possible. That means paying as low as possible so that there is more profit. It is for these reasons, that all members of the Capitalist class (those who own the productive parts of society) are regarded as the thieves of labor, the enemies of the working class, the exploiters of the proletariat, among other phrases used by Leftist groups.
Among the most bitter ironies that history has taught us, it is this: workers in the year 1600 worked only ten hours a day to secure their needs. When industrial societies arrose, and factories allowed workers to produce ten times as much as when they worked without factories, people started to work 12 to 18 hours a day, sometimes as much as 20 hours a day. The new economic conditions that came with the industrial revolution allowed the Capitalist class to force people to work for so long, since the members of this class were also the ones who controlled food distribution in society. And today, when man's productive power is at least several hundred times that of the 1600 worker, the average workday is 8 hours -- and that alone was a struggle that cost the lives of many workers, gunned down by thugs hired by corporate entities, just to obtain.
It is for these reasons, these observations and experiences in what has always felt like a dying world, that I am a Communist and a Socialist. For the motivation of a better world for myself, my fellow human kin of all nations, and the children of the coming generation, that I hold true to these beliefs.
Subversive Tactics for Revolutionaries and Reformers
There are countless ways in which a willing person can contribute to the revolution of social and economic relations in our world. If a person becomes interested in social change and political reform, then they only have an entire history of revolution to look to for advice. The existence of today's conservative, for example, can only be excused for those who were considered radical by society's standards several hundred years ago. It was once common to think that a king's absolute authority of life and death over every person was just, that the rule of government can be exerted without the authority of the people, that the general will of the population is inconsequential, that the ruling class needs no excuse. These and a thousand more foul lies were once considered public wisdom by the philosophers of the past age. And before these things were believed, even more cruel and bitter philosophies were preached as religion. Before this, there was no conception of justice, no idea of right or wrong. When men thought of morality, they simply thought of what the men who spoke for god said; when men thought of fairness, they simply thought of what the men of government said. It is true, that as we look back in history, we find eclipses in timelines, where a people were defiant, revolutionary, and bold -- where men and women dared to live by their own means, not by the guidelines of a king or priest. But such societies were small and lasted very shortly. Yet, all of this evidence is clear to all who are interested in changing today's social, economic, and political affairs. If you have this interest, then know this. There is reason to hope that things will change. And this hope is fueled by our understanding of history, our own philosophy, and of how today's society operates.
The most popular and well-known of the methods of reform is that of the union. People of a particular trade or business unite together so that they can collectively demand better conditions, through practices like a strike or boycott. The interest of the common labor union is antithetical to every interest of the Capitalist class. The labor union demands higher wages, fewer working hours, better working conditions, fair treatment of workers. These are the things that drive up the costs of the businesses. A corporation, which the sole interest of gaining power and wealth, looks to union activity as the greatest offense; it is a small group of people who have combined their power together, so that they might force oppressive groups to change their behavior. The method of the union is the most peaceful method of social change. The greatest threat its members ever pose to society is the threat to stop working, to start boycotting, and to start picketting. Their goals are not achieved through violence, but by a very gandhi-like style.
The effective goals of the union are simply the improvement of the working class's conditions. It has always sought economic reorganization, demanding that nobody can be fired except with very good reason (job security) and demanding that the workers are paid fairly according to their labor. While it is true that these are good and valid causes of any standard labor union, it shouldn't be forgotten that a union can be used as a political tool. Consider a city council that has just been bribed by corporations to remove the living wage law (a law that provides around $15 per hour minimum wage). The working class of the city will be greatly hurt. Their living conditions will start to fall, and in a short while, they will feel that their condition has reached their original position. They would either see the impending blow to their movement coming, and do nothing, lay still, take the suffering the state thinks they deserve. Or, all labor unions would combine together, for an enormous general strike. It must be understood, that products being produced, distributed, and consumed, is the government sanctioned form of slavery. For everything bought or sold, money is given to taxes, to support the state. For every hour you work, money is given to federal taxes, to support the state. For everything owned, money is given as property taxes, to support the state. If everyone, from every union in the city, from the services unions, the administrator unions, the manufacturing unions, the transportation unions, if every union in the city were to go out on strike at the same time, they would inflict massive, irreparable damage to the government. They could use their power as unions to force the government to change its decision, otherwise the entire infrastructure would collapse under this pressure. This is also a worthwhile tactic if one union is having difficulty gaining better conditions for itself, and the unions its federated with could go on strike. They go on strike, to tell their employers, to tell the other CEOs, to listen to their unions and accept some collective bargaining agreement, so that business can proceed as usual and the Capitalist system can continue.
It is unfortunate that today's unions fail to see the necessity of a federation of unions and of advocating for political causes that directly effect them. Unionizing labor today is legal. That is something they need to realize. True, the burden of poverty is over their heads; they must work so that they can feed themselves. It is always the habit of the weaker victim to be less assertive, less bold in their attacks of their enemy. But we must unite in order that we can oppose our enemies of Capitalism. We must unite, and we must be strong, in that we can overcome our enemies. And also, while I said it was a largely peaceful effort at social change, there is no doubt that the Capitalists have done to keep it anything but that. Investors hired armed police squads to subdue picketters. The social organization of our society has turned us on ourselves. We are killing and murdering each other for crumbs. All the while, an army of police officers are guarding corporate headquarters all across the United States, while people are suffering from poverty and want. Unemployment is high and the wages are low. We have a very good reason for revolting at the state of things.
Another popular effort to gain control of the situation, and create a worker's paradise is to form a political party, and to try and gain as many positions in government as possible during elections. However, it has been this method that has received the most criticisms from the general public. Efforts of the state to achieve a truly Socialist effort has had dismal results: the U.S.S.R., the Dictatorship of Cuba, the murder by the allegedly communist governments of Vietnam and Korea. And then, the efforts of minor socialist parties and international communist tendencies, these efforts have accomplished so little. True, there are some European countries that have started to elect Socialist parties, and to enact Socialist legislation. There are campaigns to reduce the average work day, to give better benefits to workers, to protect the consumers from harmful products, and to pay the workers more. But most Communists agree that they want the economy to be in the control of the people; so too, must the political structure of a society be in the control of the people. For this reason, most Communist and Socialist reformers have taken to the method of control via unions; to employ it to obtain political ends on behalf of the working class is to engage in a practice of Anarchy known as Anarcho-Syndicalism.
There is also a popular case against voting based on Anarchist principles. Anarchists often argue that if we refuse to vote, then the whole justification of consent with the government falls apart, and the system will collapse. I can hardly see any justification for this. Less than a third of the population votes anyway. If more than two thirds of a nation is not enough force to gain superiority, then at what point do we become effective? Many Anarchists maintain this position: that to refuse to vote is to make a revolutionary step. I hear their arguments, and I don't quite find the logic of their evidence. I do not see how refusing to vote is doing anything to stop the oppressors from continuing to oppress us. If they find at least one thing sacred, or at least semi-sacred, and they are willing to respect the will of the people in electing a representative of their interests, then why should we shut off this method of social and political change? Why should we villify it, destroy it, and inhibit all of its functions, when it is the only method we are legally allowed and encouraged to change the system? Consider this one scenario. There is an island with twenty people on it. There is a Democratic vote on whether this person is to be hung for his crimes or not. Among those who decide not to vote, they argue, "I do not think the collective should ever be able to vote on the life or death of a commune member, so, I shall not vote, and demonstrate my opinion this way," yet, if the majority votes for the killing, then it's the inaction of the Anarchist that played a great role in the murder. For this reason, and reasons like this, we are apt to believe that we can use voting to change things, whether we are voting on a measure or a proposal, or for a person who seems to be the lesser of two evils (despite the fact that evil is evil).
Perhaps some Anarchists will consider by ideals much less Anarchist and much less Libertarian if I support voting to a certain extent. Perhaps they will say that I am a reformer, but not a revolutionary, that I am reformist Libertarian, or some other such terms. I have only called myself an Anarchist because my ideals have been in unison with those of passed history, including Emma Goldman, Mikhail Bakunin, and Peter Kropotkin. I disagreed with them on points, of course, but the basic philosophy remains in tact: elimination of the state, communal ownership of all property, mutual organization of social units, abolishing poverty and all drug prohibition, among so many other efforts to create a better, more lasting peace between men on earth. If this basic philosophy cannot be defined as "Anarchism," then I can see of no other word to fit my arguments.
Among many projects of the Anarchists and Communist, there is that project known as a worker colony. A worker colony is a collection of workers, who live and work together in close quarters. They are all assigned housing units and jobs, most of these places catering to industrial or manufacturing jobs. Then they work four to six hours a day, and are given leisure and a suitable pay for the rest of their day. Sir Robert Owen was a philanthropist businessman of the early eighteen hundreds, and created such a society. Instead of the fourteen hour workday, these workers were only required to work eight hours a day. They were given good, high quality food at inexpensive prices and they were given free medical care. The leader of the collective, Robert Owen, was capable of turning a profit with this business venture. In fact, many of these communities were started up by many investors, however, they soon became unfashionable at the sight of rising cost and competitive markets. Many Anarchists of the new era have suggested the creations of such communities, so that people are capable of living as workers and consumers in a society where their happiness is the main end of all productivity. I am not aware of any situation where Anarchists and Communists combined their finances in order to buy land and create such a community, but it is definitely a valuable idea to be considered, even if it's just on a small scale.
Finally, there is the most popular and accepted method of spreading Anarchism and bringing about the revolution. That method is propaganda. This can take numerous forms. It can be everything from marches and protests to picketing to leafletting. Personally, I find that leafletting is the most effective way of swaying public opinion against their enemies. A piece of paper briefly outlining our ideals will be something that a person approaches on their own, it is not an argument or a debate, and it allows the person to ingest the ideas at their own speed. It is almost a re-education process. People have to unlearn that social organization should be based upon fear and misery, and have tol earn that all social relationships should be cooperative and fair. Plus, with more people educated and of Anarchist, Marxian, Communist, Socialist, or Libertarian opinions, there will be more people sympathetic to the cause of the unions. There will be fewer people who will work as scabs at a striking business or shop at stores where unions are boycotting. More people will vote for Socialist parties, environmental safe propositions, and Socialist measures. More cities and regions are to obtain a healthy Anarchist and Socialist population. The more people in a city, the more that can contribute to a massive project like a worker colony. The more who are convinced of the Anarchist position, the more who are likely to bring that issue to the eyes of the public, in spray painting across corporate property or marching in line at a protest. With all of these methods, I can hardly see these Anarchists and Communists doing nothing to bring about change.
A Free Society: The Appeal for Anarchism
I can no doubt expect that many of these ideals are enormously progressive in the eyes of today's American worker. He looks to these principles, these ideas of workers owning the productive forces in society, these revolutionary fundamentals of the workers being paid the wealth they produce, he looks to these, and he might as well be looking in to the future by thousands of the years. He is impressed, but also intimidated, and almost scared of the change. What it would take to change society, he argues, would involve moments of poverty and misery, such great reorganization of the social order, that it must be impossible. And, even if it were possible, it would be necessary that some government should guide it, that some revolutionary vanguard party is necessary to the construction of a new society. Without a large collection of highly armed, highly volatile, highly greedy men, nothing that we seek to change would get changed. It is necessary, in the eyes of these men trained to be hopeless, it is necessary that a government always exist, in order that society can have civil discourse, while the cruel element of mankind is subdued by the police forces and the military barracks.
I allude to one incident I uncovered in Portland, Oregon. Fortunately, it is an extremely Leftist town, full of as many Anarchists, Communists, and Socialists, as there are Liberals and Democrats. This has allowed some interesting experiments to come up, since so many people of the same political beliefs are collected together in this one city, and can work together on massive projects. There is one particular cafe which advertises itself as "Worker Owned." It is called Back to Back. In reality, it is owned by the I.W.W., or the Industrial Workers of the World (AKA: "Wobblies"). It just so happens, though, that the people who work there are not the owners, and beyond that, they are 100% volunteers. The only payment they receive is in tips. This is not the realization of the worker's paradise, it is the realization of his worst nightmare. In their vanguardist efforts, the money that is raised with sales should go to two places, in the eyes of the IWW: To other Capitalists, to fund their exploitation of the working class, by helping them sell their products, and to bureaucrats, who can sit around for hours a day arguing with each other over wealth distribution, convinced that they are the essential piece to Proletarian revolution.
But, I do not know all the arguments of the IWW. Perhaps, they will use the same language of Corporate America. "In recreating the world, we feel that it is necessary that workers are paid nothing, that they are to live humbly off of charity, while all the wealth in the world is concentrated in the hands of a very small number." We will heard their arguments about cost production, about competition, about inflation. They will speak on the same terms that McDonald's or Walmart would speak, in justifying cost reduction and retail increases. We are Anarchists and Communists. We believe that the Capitalist system must go if there is to be any justice in the economic or social sense; and, above and beyond that, we believe this change in the socio-economic sphere of the world can best be done by our own efforts. So many great tragedies and miseries in the world have been caused by people doing exactly as they are told, by people who act without thought, becoming the slaves to some inhuman entity. We do not need new rulers or more party politics; we need the people to rule for themselves, for each man to be his own master and his own slave.
My appeal here, then, for the American people, is an appeal for a Communist economy, as much as it is an appeal for an Anarchist society. The efforts of previous liberation groups has been in a vanguard party, in a despotic government coupled with all capital as public property, these are the greatest of dictatorships. The essential argument behind each argument, that of Anarchism and that of Communism, is the same. The idea of people deserving the wealth they create, and the idea of people living in a democratic society are similar in that both are a demonstration of the common will and desire of the people. They are both based on improving the lot of the majority of people. Besides, Communism cannot be properly carried out unless the most Democratic of conditions exist in society. Look at the Leninist revolution. It was followed and supported by a wide range of social reformers, but the conclusion was the over empowerment of the government, to the point of dictatorship. Lenin held elections once. He lost, and then used his military power to dispose of the winning political candidate. A reign of terror, of secret police, of torture chambers, of a government subverting the natural will of the people to rule themselves. The same can be said of the Castro-led revolution in Cuba. At first, it was a hopeful situation for those who wanted a dramatic change in the social order of the world. But, it was not long before the revolutionaries who sided with Castro quickly turned against him when they found out he chose himself as dictator. Castro violated the will of the people, while parading around like he was its greatest demonstration. So did Lenin. In both of these international cases, it was a revolutionary party that refused to let the people rule themselves. If we are to be successful, we must pay respect to our Socialist brothers, and understand the faults that they made. We must create an Anarchist society, if the Communist economy is ever to be justly employed.
I hope that the philosophy, the politics, the economics, and the social views displayed in this essay were enlightening or even heart-warming; I hope I have helped many other workers realize that they are not alone in their opposition of their two greatest enemies, the Capitalists and the government. The first strips him of all his deserved wealth, the second strip him of all freedoms. It is the poverty of slavery, the chains of misery. I hope that the suggested methods for achieving our new world prove helpful, and that the workers of the world are bold and strong enough to try these tactics with me. By uniting, by organizing, we are becoming stronger than the leader of our enemies. Stay strong, and stay linked together.
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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