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Against capitalism’s crises, we have to build a social alternative!

category international | economy | policy statement author Tuesday November 20, 2012 18:33author by Relations internationales de la CGA - Coordination des Groupes Anarchistes Report this post to the editors

Policy paper from the French Coordination des Groupes Anarchistes on the ongoing capitalist crisis. [Français]

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Against capitalism’s crises, we have to build a social alternative!


Policy paper from the French Coordination des Groupes Anarchistes on the ongoing capitalist crisis.


The capitalist system is in crisis.

The current social crisis is not the result of a "conspiracy" or a drift of some bad "financial capitalism" as opposed to some righteous "industrial capitalism." It is not the sole result of "speculation" which is only one of the aspects of the functioning of capitalism.

This is the result of the contradictions of the capitalist system itself, the logical result of the capitalist organization of the economy.
An organization - even in “normal” operating conditions - that establishes social inequality, making the satisfaction of basic needs inaccessible to the vast majority of people, while also making life unbearable.

Somehow, capitalism produces itself the conditions of its crises, although its ability to adapt has always allowed it so far to overcome them, with the blood of Workers as a price to pay.

The society in which we currently live is experiencing a quadruple crisis - economic, ecological, social and political - that stems from capitalist and statist systems, from an organization based on private ownership of the means of production and distribution, as well as hierarchy, domination and exploitation.

If this crisis also affects some sectors of the bourgeoisie, because of the competitive logic that is inherent to the capitalist system, it is primarily the employed or unemployed workers, who suffer from it, and a large sector of the bourgeoisie continues to accumulate wealth by shifting the burden of the crisis to the proletariat, part of them even managing to take advantage of the situation to strengthen their position.

Economic crisis

Capitalist economic organization is based on the continuous search for profit, namely the growth of capital through the appropriation of surplus value, that is to say, the theft of the product of the collective work of workers through the private ownership regime of the means of production.

For the profit to be realized, goods and services must be turned into commodities, that is to say be subject to a market exchange that gives them value in the capitalist meaning.

For this, it is necessary that the capitalist system maintains continuous supply and effective demand, by creating it artificially if so needed. The gradual market saturation (effective, because the only think capitalism take into account is the demand of those who can pay) forces the productive apparatus to continuously renew the offer through the creation of new products and the organization of the short-term obsolescence of manufactured products.
In addition, the necessity for the ruling class to capture an ever and greater share of wealth leads them to seek to maintain and increase its rate of profit by all means: increased working time and direct and indirect wages’ cuts or increased productivity by increasing cadences, etc..

The attack on direct and indirect wages, lowers the solvency of Workers, and therefore lowers demand.

However, in order for the profit to be realized, the capitalists must complete the exchange of goods and services, that is to say, sell their products to solvent customers.

Capitalism has tried to resolve this contradiction through the development of credit to artificially stimulate demand, since the '70s.

But the development of credit led to a second contradiction: it is necessary in order for the profit to be made, that the debtor (workers, businesses, states, etc.) reimburse the credit in order to fuel the economic machinery. But the pressure of capital to lower wages and the desire to capture a growing share of wealth inevitably lead to repayments difficulties at all scales.

The solvency of demand poses new problems, and thus the conditions of profit achievment are more and more difficult for capitalists.

This increases the competition within the capitalist bourgeoisie for market’s control, on the national as well as the international level.

Ecological crisis

The capitalist economic model is based on the growth of the production of wealth. However, the finite nature of natural resources, mainly energy resources, stands in contradiction with the logic of growth.

Pollution, generated by the capitalist economic system, endangering ecosystems, in addition to directly impacting the lives of human beings, is an increasing cost that weighs indirectly on the economic organization, even if the cost is over all assumed by the workers, not the capitalists who are responsible for it.

Limited energy resources lead to higher energy prices, which is reflected in the cost of production of goods and services. To offset this and continue to sell goods and services by preserving “competitive” prices in the context of capitalist vying, the bourgeoisie was increasingly led to use the only flexibility it has: that of lowering the so-called "cost of labor", in reality that of the decline in labor compensation. This is done through lower wages and increased rates of labor intensity to increase productivity, while paying the same or reduced wages.

Similarly, the limitation of energy resources leads to fierce competition internationally for the control of resources.

Competition for control of resources and markets is happening on the international level by the drive to war, by which the national bourgeoisies, trough coalition or unilaterally, seek to secure and increase their access to resources.

Social crisis

In a context where the contradictions of the capitalist system creates a situation of ecological and economic crisis, the bourgeoisie seeks to pull trough by shifting the negative consequences of these crisis to the workers.
This involves a brutal attack against the living conditions of the proletariat, to extort an always greater share of the wealth they create. This leads to the liquidation of the after WWII "compromise", that is to say, the workers social gains, ie social security, public services, etc.. These attacks led by the States in the name of "austerity", "economic recovery" and " paying off the debt" are diving ever increasing shares of the exploited classes into poverty and precariousness. These attacks affect more violently the most oppressed and exploited sectors of the popular classes, especially women, immigrants-es, racialized people.

The crisis comes also with a hardening of the relays of patriarchal oppression: reactionary speeches for the confinement of women in the home, challenging abortion rights, end of the economic independence of many women, male violence against women increases. Moreover, unemployment is higher among women than men, but the unemployed male workers receiving benefits outnumber unemployed female workers receiving benefits.

These attacks have resulted in the deterioration of human relationships within the exploited classes themselves, since the logic of capitalism is competition between proletarians for survival in a context of unemployment and mass poverty.

Political crisis

In this context, the historical role of the state as the support of the bourgeoisie and defender of exploitation and capitalist oppression appears more clearly in the eyes of Workers.

As collapses the myth of the “protective” and “welfare” state, as a so-called "neutral tool" allegedly "serving the community", the edifice of representative "democracy" (sic) also cracks. Thus, popular revolts develop increasingly, even in areas where hitherto the authority of the State was strongly established on behalf of an alleged "democratic legitimacy".

To cope with this situation, the politicians and the bourgeoisie resort increasingly to nationalism to divide the proletariat and waving scapegoats in order to protect themselves from popular anger. Similarly, the temptation of fascism rises around the world, some sectors of the bourgeoisie giving it growing support, seeing it as a way to "bring order" to the effects of capitalist contradictions, without questioning their privileges.

While taking different forms depending on local realities, fascism is thus promoted in an ever increasingly open way, to prevent the political crisis - which develops in connection with the economic, social and environmental crisis, - to lead to a social revolution. It also aims to mobilize the proletariat in order for them to support the national bourgeoisie, in the name of a "sacred union" in the economic war being waged by different capitalist groups, sectors and blocs.

What is the alternative?

We do not believe, unlike the Marxists, that the contradictions of capitalism lead mechanically to its collapse.
The actual quadruple crises situation- political, economic, ecological and social - does not mean the automaticity of social revolution and communism. Capitalism has shown in the past its ability to adapt. The Bourgeoisies have accumulated extensive experience and have never hesitated to resort to war, fascism, when they considered their interest depended from it. Thus the "Democratic" proclamation of some or other are fading away or loosing their concrete content when (the bourgeoisies) fundamental interests are at stake.

Libertarian communism or capitalist barbarity

Thus, the need for social revolution arises more than ever, in order to end capitalist barbarity. This revolutionary break can only result from the development of struggles and popular self-organization, and may not be the work of some "supreme saviors", “providential orators” or so-called "vanguard party." Because the state can not be an instrument of social transformation in the perspective of individual and social emancipation.

These struggles, rooted in the basic needs and aspirations of the popular classes (housing, food, clothing, freely moving, defending one’s personal integrity, cultivating oneself ...) build the collective management abilities of the exploited classes, and allow the organization of mutual aid. They are the ground upon which Grassroots/popular organizing can develop against state power (undermining the foundations of the "State-as-an-organizer"), the expropriation of the bourgeoisie and the pooling of means of production, their federalist management federalist on a territorial and industrial basis.

The development of autonomous grassroots/popular organization, can not be done through slogans, it is a day-to-day work which aims to build strong and durable tools of resistance.

This is an issue, a priority for all those for whom social change and revolution are not mobilizing myths but concrete objectives, despite the difficulties of the period.

This is the only way to bring a stop to the development of a "social cannibalism" within our exploited classes.

Today, the development of struggles faces several obstacles:
  • The ‘de facto’ convergence between the capitalist system and the patriarchal and racist systems, which leads to the division of the exploited, causing a portion of the exploited to side with the dominant system.

  • The disorganisation of a large part of the exploited classes, linked to social atomization, the individualistic decline, the logic of "every (wo)man for himself", but also the inability of current forms of organization to address the concerns of the majority of the exploited.

  • The weight of statist ideologies that are still waving, in a mistifying way, the state as a remedy against capitalist exploitation, and its conquest as a strategic issue.

  • Bureaucratization and the integration of parts of the popular organizations, which weakens their collective emancipatory strength, it being partly appropriated by ruling minorities.

  • The conviction related to the strength of the dominant ideology, that there is no alternative due to the low diffusion of antiauthoritarian ideas. This fatalism is carefully maintained by the ideological apparatuses, but also by the consecutive social defeats.
These obstacles are not inevitable, and it belongs to all those who refuse the capitalist barbarity to work to lift them by developing truly collective forms of organization, combining direct democracy and federalism, confronting all of the domination and exploitation systems, and inserting itself socially while fitting in an internationalist perspective.

Lifting these barriers should allow us to create opportunities to break with capitalism and the state, in order to end the economic, social, environmental and political crisis.

To meet the needs of the population and answer to the economic and social crisis, we advocate a classless and stateless society, ending private ownership of the means of production and exchange, to get rid of inequalities and exploitation.

We advocate a social organization based on the self-management of society and federalism as an answer to the political and ecological crises. This is to ensure effective political equality and to collectively handle environmental issues.

These “break” proposals express the dual requirement to both respond to crises we face and our will to enable the personal fulfillment of individuals.


Motion adopted at the Fifth Congress of the CGA, 1, 2, 3 November 2012.

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