Activist Practice and Revolutionary Struggle

Insurrectionary Anarchists of the Coast Salish Territories
Vancouver, Canada
June 29, 2003

It's out of fashion to be a revolutionary. A lot of people have grown up over the past few years and moved on to more mature projects. Direct action against the class of exploiters and their institutions is dismissed, ignored, rejected or denounced.

The class conflict between the rich and the poor, the exploiter and the exploited, is obvious to everyone, but the orientation of those who claim to specialize in class struggle has changed. It's now unfashionable to claim a revolutionary perspective. Specialization has deepened, and various individuals and groups increasingly define themselves as social activists, and in many cases, the radical sector of the social democratic movement. Activists keep themselves busy by organizing endless meetings, educational forums that resemble the worst type of university lectures, distribution of literature that is not informative to anyone, and pointless protest marches that could be mistaken for funeral processions.

Activist practice is the natural consequence of activist theory, and it rejects revolutionary struggle and the autonomous organization of attacks on the structures of capitalism. Activist groups tend to organize under the model of the political party. They draft a rigid political program and work to recruit a membership that will adopt it. Activist organizations, both those structured with authoritarian leadership and those that make decisions democratically, demand that the individuals who make up their membership flatten their opinions and come to a lowest common denominator consensus. Activist organizations and political parties see their primary task as building their membership and mobilizing masses of people, as this directly relates to the amount of political power an organization can gain by appearing to represent the interests of the masses. Quantity overtakes quality, while organizations struggle for legitimacy in the arena of middle-class politics and corporate media presentations. The direct material struggle of the oppressed becomes a bargaining piece in negotiations with the class enemy.

Activists continue to place special importance on the role of the trade unions, despite the increasing tendency of the unions towards abandoning the struggle in favour of compromise, and the global shift in the capitalist economy from the manufacturing to the service sector, which is resulting in the decline of unionization.

Activists continue to spout off vague and abstract rhetoric in a language people increasingly do not understand or have no interest in listening to.

We need to mobilize the masses, they say.

We ask, what masses?

That alienates people.

What class of people?

Now is not the time.

Then when?

Activist practice affects the struggle of the exploited in many negative ways. Although individual, isolated acts of sabotage and absenteeism are common among workers, there is a growing distaste for all the traditional forms of political and social organization. Apathy, passivity and defeatist attitudes are also rampant, and there are still many na?e souls looking for a saviour in the form of a charismatic political leader, playing into a cycle of betrayal and disappointment. People expect nothing to change and this attitude contributes to the continuation of this system of exploitation.

The alternative to all this, in our view, is in the growing desire to resist domination and our ability to develop an insurrectionary social movement. Oppressed individuals must self-organize a project that is antagonistic and uncompromising towards the class enemy. Individuals can form small affinity groups that come together around a common perspective and then dissolve when they have outlived their function. Affinity groups can then build base structures, mass organizations with precise objectives and a hostile position towards all political forces. Acts of sabotage can also be points of reference and anti-capitalist insurgency can spread throughout society. With an insurrectionary orientation and practice we can potentially contribute to a revolution that will overthrow the economy of control and the class who benefits from it. Those who seek dignity and freedom should settle for nothing less.

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