Who we are:

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Notes from Below

Economically, it can be stated that the last 30 years belonged to Neo-liberalism. As such the world seemed easy to navigate for pro-revolutionaries and activists alike. Class interest often appeared clearly defined, and at  times our enemies coalesced into recognizable power blocks, be that the WTO, the IMF or the World Bank.

But the dynamic epoch of Neo-liberalism now appears blocked, the managers of capitalism seem caught in a moment of in-between, oscillating between stagnation and rebirth. We exist then, in an era of crisis management. Be that the Financial crisis and the crisis of ‘political representation’, that has currently bought neo-liberalism to an impasse. Or the Bio-crisis, the crisis in our shared ecology bought about by capitalism’s need for infinite growth on a finite planet (of which climate change is just one expression).

As such Notes from Below exists as an occasional blog/opinion platform, seeking to discover and map both trends in capitalism and resistance as they reformulate to counter stagnation. We do this in the hope of increasing dialogue and understanding of our present inside the broad ‘movement of movements’ and to offer our opinion as communists. These articles will be attributed to us. We will also post articles produced by others ‘outside’ our collective as well as interviews, historical research and reviews that we hope people will find of interest.

‘Communism’ as a description of our politics often causes confusion. This is due to the multitude of tendencies that lay claim to the dirty ‘C’ word. Rather than retreat from its use entirely we believe that some words are worth fighting for.

What we feel:

Communism for us is not the former USSR, it is  ‘a society without money, without a state, without property and without social classes.’

We believe that the working class are vital to communisms’ establishment. This  is not to say that we concern ourselves solely with mapping tendencies in the  working class as it was once traditionally described, as an industrial base. The reality of production has changed in the interceding years between Marx’s Kapital and the present. Depending on geographic context, conditions for the ‘producing class’ vary enormously, yet share common factors necessary for capitalism’s survival.

Namely – an alienation from  the means of production and restricitive measures that are put in place that stop the free access to the necessities of life for all. The ‘working class’  includes, students, housewives, the unwaged and the unemployed, the landless and the marginalised .


Communism:


Communism is not an end result, destined to be experienced in some far off future. For us it is also a means of viewing the world and acting upon it in the present, an aesthetic of both being and doing. When this is actualized we call this ‘communisation’.

We believe that communism does not need to wait for the ‘right’ material conditions to come into being. The world will look and feel the same when we finally awake in communism as it does in the present, just slightly different.  When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to white passengers in segregation America, the world shifted, reality changed, the bus itself did not alter but how it was used and experienced  did.

The same ability to transform how space and material is understood and experienced can be seen in the micro-worlds created by Reclaim the Streets activists, who transformed roads into play areas for children and adults alike. The road itself remained the same, but it was now somehow different, no longer a conduit for the flow of labour and capitalism but a communal space of infinite possibility.

”Communisation’ occurs in every moment when people come together to share some skill or resource, despite the limits capitalism places upon them, and when it is recognized as such. This is evident in the slums of the Global South, where people share what little they have despite living on 2 dollars a day. It is also evident on the picket lines or Squats of Europe, when people come together to struggle for their material needs. We do not believe communism will appear through random acts of ‘kindness, survival and decency’ alone nor through wishful imagining. We believe in the necessity of organisation and the establishment of a  common understanding of our shared present. We are in favour of developing a language of experience that can generalise antagonistic relationships to Capitalism, be that through strikes,occupations, redistribution or open revolt.

What do we want? :

To remove property from the hands of the few and place it into common use for the good of all humanity. We want people to come together (freely associate) to carry out a project or to respond to some need of the human community without their collective activity taking the form of an enterprise that involves either wages or the exchange of its products, as is the present state of things.

The role of the state:

Contrary to the illusions produced by capitalist reality, the state and its institutions are not the inevitable result of the growth and complexities of societies, but the opposite, the result of the frantic socialization of the species without community. The necessity for distinct state organs of administration, repression and assistance are the product of a class ridden and deeply unequal society.

The state is the defender of the dominant class which is increasingly integrated into it. Globally the situation is the same. This is as true in England as it is in ‘socialist’ Cuba. We do not believe that the state can be reformed nor do we have faith in political parties of the present, even the alleged revolutionary or socialist ones to represent the interest of people. We believe in a ‘communism from below’, that is to say, the autonomy of people to organise for their material needs without authoritarian leaderships. The communist movement we aspire to organises itself internationally, in order to abolish all class relationships.

Why do we not call ourselves Anarchists?

Why we recognise good comrades and friends in various revolutionary traditions (and we feel a strong affinity to anarchism, in its immediacy and understanding) we prefer the term Communist to describe our ‘politics’. Communism can subsume and include both Socialism and Anarchism, and as such increases the possibility for communication between those tendencies that the adoption of either of the latter as an identity, prohibits. We are about ‘generalising struggle’ and as such choose a descriptive term that best encompasses all flows of dialogue and  possible understandings.

1 Response to “About”


  1. 1 Kevin Keating July 18, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Hi,

    I saw your statement regarding getting rid of the economy as the solution to the ecological crisis on the au-top-sy list.

    The articles below examine efforts aimed at encouraging working class opposition to what the market does to our lives here in the SF Bay Area.

    Let me know what you think.

    All the best,

    Kevin Keating
    San Francisco

    Since the early 1990’s, actions in the San Francisco Bay Area around mass transit, described here,

    http://www.infoshop.org/myep/love2.html

    the initial impetus behind this,

    http://www.infoshop.org/myep/muni_social_strikeout.html

    and the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project

    http://www.infoshop.org/myep/myep_criticism.html

    have been part of an ongoing effort to establish a new kind of anti-state/anti- market, autonomous class struggle praxis relevant to the times we live in.

    Each of these action was initiated and pursued based on an understanding that —

    1. These efforts take place “on the terrain of everyday life” of the wage-earning class, where contemporary working people confront what market relations do to our lives, and where the market system’s antagonism to human needs gives rise to some possibility of an organized, conscious, mass collective response. These efforts haven’t been directed towards the left-liberal protest ghetto, or toward academic, anarchist or Marxist subcultures.

    2. Mass collective class struggle includes the fight against the boss in the workplace, but is not limited to the workplace.

    3. In both form and substance the methods used to help catalyze a new politics of working class resistance to capitalism and it’s political apparatus have to be qualitatively different from the politics of failure, the politics of the left — the left-wing of capital.

    4. Authentic enemies of capitalism in the 21st century cannot use the strategies, tactics or communication methods used by pro-wage labor leftists in the 20th century.

    5. With the virtual disappearance of the conventional left, and the accelerating decline of the United States as a world power, the way is now open for the creation of a new type of autonomous working class oppositional praxis. This praxis freely takes from the best insights that grew out of the old revolutionary movement of the past two hundred years and uses these insights as a point of departure, and not as an end-point. Anarcho-syndicalism and council communism were both useful in their day. That day has passed.

    The efforts around mass transit described in the articles above have a much greater future subversive potential than the Mission District anti-gentrification effort; they have the potential to directly involve a larger number of working people over an entire city or urban area. Under the right circumstances actions like these can also have a “bleed-through” effect that may help spread resistance in other areas of contemporary life. But the communications methods used in the yuppie eradication project were more effective at getting an extremist message out in a big way than what happened with the mass transit efforts.

    What’s being examined here is mostly a method of communication. These methods can be a template for similar anti-state/anti- capitalist prole actions elsewhere, including but not limited to fights around housing, social space and against austerity measures that target employees and passengers of mass transit systems.

    Kevin Keating
    San Francisco
    proletaire2003@ yahoo.com

    More info on the failed transit system fare strike in San Francisco in 2005 can also be found here, in a review of “FARE STRIKE! San Francisco 2005: First-Hand Accounts:”

    http://www.infoshop.org/myep/muni_farestrike.html


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