Who we are:
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 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.