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The tasks of social anarchism in Chile

category bolivia / peru / ecuador / chile | anarchist movement | debate author Thursday October 17, 2013 21:42author by C.A.L. Report this post to the editors

The "libertarian" world as an area for debate

Until a few months ago we had a libertarian movement in which different ideological expressions of the popular movement came together, but with certain shared elements such as recognition of the need to build organizations from the bottom, outside the State, promoting at all times internal democracy and the leading role of those directly involved, with the clarity on a strategic level that the task was to build popular power with class autonomy and encourage direct action as the main political tool for social transformation. However, the appearance of the Red Libertaria as part of the Todxs a La Moneda movement which supports the presidential candidacy of Marcel Claude and the recent sign from the Frente de Estudiantes Libertarios rejecting this initiative have only served to initiate a split within the libertarians, where it seems that reformist and authoritarian positions have achieved hegemony over part of the militants, and to which anarchists have only stood on as passive spectators. [Castellano]
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The tasks of social anarchism in Chile

The "libertarian" world as an area for debate


"We by no means deny the importance of political freedom. But political freedom can only be obtained when the people are determined to win it; and once it is obtained, it can only last and have any sort of value when governments feel that the people will not stand for the removal of this freedom. Accustoming the people to delegate to others the conquest and defence of their rights is the surest way to leave the way clear to the whims of rulers."
(Malatesta)

"But the real socialist alternative is there, it is not something that is produced outside the historical experiences, and with its mistakes and successes, it is the authentic product which comprises the desire for justice and freedom of the people. It would be important to begin to rethink a more rigorous critique of the things that have shipwrecked the alternative to structure a society on bases other than the miserable ones that support this system."
(Federación Anarquista Uruguaya)


Until some time ago, and after 14 years of building social anarchism in the Chilean region, we could quite happily see the great sympathy with which libertarian ideas were being held inside certain sectors of the popular movement. Indeed one could actually talk about the existence of a libertarian movement made up of militants from among the unions, students and people, who possessed certain more or less shared strategic and tactical elements, to which we could add a common political and cultural matrix. The mobilizations of 2011 contributed on a subjective level to the libertarian project being able to permeate much more deeply into so many of the people involved in those days of struggle.

At the same time, this rapidly-developing libertarian movement rightly understood that it was necessary to contribute to building a revolutionary pole within the left, which was reflected in joint action with other political experiences within organizations such as the student federations and CONFECH [1], the Congress for a new syndicalism and, in an embryonic way, in certain neighbourhood assemblies and coordinations that managed to survive after 2011. In the last couple of years, this has meant a significant advance for anarchists because it allowed an accumulation of favorable forces to take place, and allowed anarchist organizations to leave behind their status of "satellite organizations" and take on the responsibility of injecting into the popular movement a series of experiences and ideas that had been developing within their libertarian programme. As a result of this clarity our practices no longer turn away from or reject any initiatives that do not originate from us, and at the same time we no longer need to jump on anyone's bandwagon, especially that of the authoritarian left.

That was how until a few months ago we had a libertarian movement in which different ideological expressions of the popular movement came together, but with certain shared elements such as recognition of the need to build organizations from the bottom, outside the State, promoting at all times internal democracy and the leading role of those directly involved, with the clarity on a strategic level that the task was to build popular power with class autonomy and encourage direct action as the main political tool for social transformation. However, the appearance of the Red Libertaria [2] as part of the Todxs a La Moneda [3] movement which supports the presidential candidacy of Marcel Claude and the recent sign from the Frente de Estudiantes Libertarios rejecting this initiative have only served to initiate a split within the libertarians, where it seems that reformist and authoritarian positions have achieved hegemony over part of the militants, and to which anarchists have only stood on as passive spectators. It may be perhaps that the Chilean anarchist movement, which at one time was deeply marked by the historical line of Creole and Latin American anarchism, has opted for pragmatism to the extent that it fully accepts the idea of ​​implementing a political line that complements institutional struggle from above and mass direct action from below. It may be that the commitment to a "democratic rupture" as a way to move towards a popular project of majorities, very much part of the logic of the Bolivarian project and that of the nationalist left, is a long-term challenge for libertarians. We can say, then, that there is still one historical project within the libertarian movement or it may be that we seem to be facing a separation of the waters, where two quite distinct (at least at this point, in their tactical aspects) projects begin to live together, but also begin to show features of deep strategic differences.

Faced with this diagnosis, we anarchists have two options: firstly, to mark ourselves out from the "libertarians", meaning that the advance of reformist positions is too much to bear, or to think of what is "libertarian" as an area for debate in an attempt to take back the historical heritage of the concept, indisputably linked as it is to anarchist practices and ideas. To my mind it is time to come together and build a school of thought that debates this construction which has been going on for over a decade in which we anarchist communists have perhaps had a more important role than other libertarian sectors.

For the time being, silence would be an omission, but to criticize and do nothing else would also be a mistake. A first major task is to overcome the political weaknesses of anarchism, as the Delo Truda group said after the Russian Revolution:

"We have fallen into the habit of ascribing the anarchist movement's failure in Russia in 1917-1919 to the Bolshevik Party's statist repression, which is a serious error. Bolshevik repression hampered the anarchist movement's spread during the revolution, but it was only one obstacle. Rather, it was the anarchist movement's own internal ineffectuality which was one of the chief causes of that failure, an ineffectuality emanating from the vagueness and indecisiveness that characterized its main policy statements on organization and tactics."
We must be able to see that the first responsibility is ours. We must be able to learn the lessons that must be learnt in order to move forward. We need to return our organizations to the idea that the main thing is the role of the grassroots, building from below, but above all with class autonomy and mass direct action. In order to neutralize the reformist wing, we should begin by clarifying our own programme, our own constructive proposals, and promote democracy within our organizational structures. These are issues for which there are no magic recipes, though we can be inspired and guided by experience and theoretical reflection on our past work.

A second task lies in redefining our policy of alliances, not from the point of view of which organizations we intend to build a revolutionary alternative with, but rather to define what political positions will prevail in our relationships and from which area they should be chosen. That is why our unity with the revolutionary sectors is "from below and in the struggle", distancing ourselves from any alliance from above with an institutional goal, which is apparently the option being taken by some libertarians converging into Todxs a La Moneda. This positioning from below prioritizes coordination in specific areas where our various members are actually active (social and socio-political spaces), provided that certain minimum objectives are shared. It is in the struggle, because we believe it is actual practice which serves to clarify our objectives and correct our positions, rather than just debate by political bodies. In this way it is possible to build a libertarian pole within the popular sectors that can promote a social project from below, with grassroots democracy, as libertarian as possible, that can eventually abolish the State in a revolutionary way.

A third task related to the above is to define a clear position on why we oppose the participation of libertarians in the current electoral process and this is fully linked to our strategy of building from below and outside the State. In the words of Felipe Corrêa:

"Any social transformation of capitalism, as in the case of that advocated by Bakunin, who advocated that socialism could only be realized outside of the State institutions, (...) would be an organization of all the dominated classes who, starting with their own economic and political bodies - unions, social movements, etc. - must carry on both the struggle for transformation and the structuring of a new society that does not set itself out as a dominating power, but rather as a self-managing power, putting an end to domination in general. At the same time we must make it quite clear that although short-term victories can be won, both in the economic sphere (higher wages, shorter working hours) and in the political (greater freedoms and civil rights), they should be only a means to a wider process of transformation, one that is able to forge a self-managing power that would eliminate capitalism and the State by forging a new territorial and community power structure."
This is where anarchists fall short in providing clarity in the process of revolutionary social transformation. It is our political objectives that we have to refine, beyond what the doctrine says. This analysis enables reflection on different strategies for change or social transformation. In any strategy, it is the objectives that determine the actions, i.e. the strategic objectives imply a coherent strategy with it, which unfolds into tactics; the tactics should indicate the strategy and the strategy the strategic objective. This issue is critical because if the strategic objective is to make adjustments within the same model of power, some forms of political participation will work more than others; if the goal is the transformation of the model of power relations at the macro-social level, other forms of political participation will be more appropriate. This is where there are major differences between the two projects that coexist within the libertarian movement. We believe at a strategic level that actions within the State can promote social change, but social transformation would entail changes in the system and not in the current model of power. That does not mean that all short-term measures are to the benefit of the current system of domination and tend to strengthen the model of dominating power. For example, we agree that in the current scenario, Chile needs a series of democratic reforms which must be driven by the popular movement as a whole, with the aim of undermining the foundations of the neoliberal model.

One outline of a strategic objective for anarchists and those who within the libertarian movement identify with this line of construction would be the strengthening of the incipient popular social movement that has been developing the tasks to perform since the start of the 2006-11 cycle of struggles. The social movements are, historically, an area of the dominated classes which acts on its own behalf. If, on the one hand, short-term measures outside the State tend to reinforce their legitimacy and, therefore, the system of which it is an essential part, the short-term gains from the class struggle conducted by the social movements can serve to strengthen a distinct project of power that opposes the current model. Changing the model of power within society by bringing the weight of participation to the limits of self-management is an ambitious strategic objective. And in order to be consistent with this strategic objective, replacing the system of domination with one of self-management requires strategies and tactics that aim for that route. Tactics and strategies to strengthen the relations of domination cannot hope to reach objectives claiming to seek self-management. The social movements can be privileged areas for (revolutionary) social transformation, but their strategies and tactics must be adjusted for such purposes. (Correa, 2007)

Social transformations can arise only from everyday construction at the most basic levels of society, which is why a good perspective is community control. The self-managed organization of the popular social movements, from the perspective of managing the primary issues for the life of the organization and for the control of the territory thus becomes a key means for the construction of a self-management model. Short-term victories, such as democratic reforms for the country, are essential for accumulating the force of the dominated classes. But one cannot forget the strategic goal of building popular power with class autonomy, which can lay the foundations of self-management and promote a broader process of social transformation through concrete gains in various spheres (improved economic conditions, greater political participation etc.) and the subjective construction of a new cultural ideological ethos within the popular sectors.

This long-term project requires that within the social movements, our essentially short-term positions and the corporativist demands of various sectors be left behind us. So, leaving behind our short-term objectives and promoting the integration of the social movements in favour of a broader objective of transformation becomes the key in this process. And if we are to achieve this, it is necessary to have a broader organizational structure, articulated into a inter-sectoral popular organization, or a type of "dominated class front", which can represent the seeds of social transformation leading towards a self-management model of popular power.

BUILD THE POPULAR ORGANIZATION FROM BELOW, OUTSIDE THE STATE
STRUGGLE, CREATE, POPULAR POWER AGAINST THE STATE AND CAPITAL
AGAINST THE CAPITALIST BEAST, ANARCHIST COMMUNIST STRUGGLE

Corriente de Acción Libertaria

October 2013.

Translation by FdCA - International Relations Office.


Notes:

1. The Confederation of Chilean Students.
2. "Libertarian Network".
3. "Everyone to La Moneda", political movement created to support the candidacy of Marcel Claude in the presidential elections and consisting of Izquierda Unida and the Humanist Party. "La Moneda" is the name of the President's residence.

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