Es wurden keine neuen Veranstaltungshinweise in der letzten Woche veröffentlicht
Propaganda, solidarity, education
opinion / analysis
Friday March 04, 2022 02:28 by Carl Eugene Stroud
In this article, I use the framing of the class struggle and the action of revolutionary militancy to reflect on three fundamental concepts: propaganda, solidarity, and education.
Workers, to take but one possible example, are not choosing to be on the opposing side of capitalists. They find themselves on a certain side of a line that is an undeniable feature of our world. Clearly seeing this line dividing the ruling class from the oppressed is not the effect of a belief system; it is not a way of virtue signaling, the proof of a boogieman, or a figment of the imaginations of exploited people. The lines dividing the classes are found in the world, not in people’s heads. This is why class struggle requires consciousness of class lines and awareness of the fact that you are already positioned on a certain side. Still, position in class struggle is different than position in class hierarchy. The former is defined by one’s action; the latter is generalized and systematic, and it does not pre-determine action.
Propaganda should attempt to make these real lines appear starker and more obvious. But this should not be confused with educational work. No one needs to be educated on the reality of these lines, since all of us know intimately the barriers, rules, “necessities”, needs, hopelessness, endlessness, exploitation, and domination of class dynamics. Whether we realize it or not, we’ve already received that education. Propaganda does not teach; it awakens people to knowledge that they already possess. It says, “You have this know-how, and you can use it in ways that the ruling class cannot imagine.” If this idea is empowering, it is because we already have the knowledge to make it true, the conditioning to make it meaningful. Only presumptuous propaganda attempts to educate the oppressed about reality, since revolutionary class politics is supposed to be about taking sides and defending the demands of the oppressed. This requires a propaganda that reveals lines as they exist in reality, not idealistically or philosophically, but contextually, and to people who are already immersed in a world that has been determined by these class lines. Propaganda is a spark for the willing and able, not an instruction or piece of advice, not a tidbit of knowledge or nugget of wisdom.
The problem to be addressed by propaganda is the fact that these already existing class lines remain hidden and obscured. They can be difficult to uncover without resorting to dogmatic methods. For this reason, it is common for propaganda to be instructive, even prescriptive in addressing the masses. For this same reason, militant education, in particular, is reduced to propaganda, full of information but lacking pedagogical rigor. Liberating propaganda must distinguish itself from radical pedagogy, if people who have knowledge of class, gained from lived experience, will be able to learn with and organize with people who have pedagogical, theoretical, and strategic knowledge of class, gained from militant engagement.
For revolutionaries, there is a constant need to ask ourselves whether we are prioritizing communicating and working with other people or whether we are perfecting our ideas and beliefs, irrespective of the current reality of the social level. Since our freedom to overcome oppressive conditions is not a mental faculty, but a way of acting in the world, there is a constant need to understand the present situation, the reality of the world where we find ourselves.
Ethics could be considered the practice of continuing a particular instance of solidarity, an attempt to generalize it. In this way, the work of solidarity, as a form of ethical praxis, is never done. While it is legitimate and expected that the inspiration behind action might be moral, it should not be moralizing. Moral actors should not assume that their particular morality is the only possible motivation for revolutionary militancy. And they should not assume that the motivations of the past, like the strategies and tactics of the past, will continue to serve us in the future, when we will inevitably be faced with the need to take a real position in a present situation (to act in solidarity).
In a moment of crisis, the question “is this in solidarity?” cannot be answered conclusively. In that moment, there is no certainty, only action, and that means risk. Solidarity is committing to being responsible for the effects and consequences of taking that risk. Again, it is an attempt to generalize concrete action, in support of others, projecting this support into the future. Its significance is not as a litmus test or a box to check on a survey, but as a commitment which is neither far-off nor idealistic, not in anticipation, not out of fear, but as lived determination.
Revolutionary solidarity must not only be durable; it must also be enduring. This means: filling moments with concrete action, filling void with relevant dialogue (not dogma), filling the space between us with ethical relationships, and filling the time between moral acts and random incidental action with militant solidarity. If we do not fill this void, others will, passively or otherwise, probably with the logic of profit and the false ethics of authoritarian efficiency. Revolutionaries must strategically fill space with intentionality, of theory and of action. Praxis is the perpetuation of intentionality, both collaboratively and historically, therefore our problem, today, is that we cannot just assume that a moral coalition of “the people who helped last time” will do the ethical work of defending solidarity during moments of peace.
Education and militant formation can help to address the temporal component of solidarity. Activism is only an instance, but militancy is the motor of social movements, of groupings of tendency, and of specific organizations. Militancy is the action which fills the void. But militancy requires that you go deep. Nothing can change that. So, education is about creating a path between militant organization and popular organization, between the political level and the social level. This means bringing people, ideas, and information into an educational space that is organized and defended by militants. But it also means ensuring that people, ideas, and information find their way back to mass movements and popular organizations on the social level.
The status quo is at an advantage because the already-powerful do not depend on militancy. Since mass passivity serves as the sustaining motor of the dominant social structure, there is no need for an “active minority” to defend it. In an oppressive social system, elites do not have to organize as a political unity; both the atomization and the disorganization of the masses of oppressed people guarantee a minority hold on power. So, the status quo is oriented around a strategy of pacifying and dividing the masses, as opposed to the strategy of especifismo, which relies on an active minority of anarchist militants. Elites are not an “active” minority precisely because it is “action” that they are freed from having to do. It is the dominated and exploited classes that do the action, in the form of their labor. Their passivity, in relation to class struggle, makes them inadvertently complicit in a system that alienates them from their own action.
Organizing an active minority is a move toward continuous commitment, outside of the system. Especifismo informs this active minority strategically, by insisting on re-inserting the unity of this minority back onto the social level, in a way that encourages mass movements to act in their own interests and against their conditioning to be passive in relation to their own consent and commitment. The active minority of especifismo does not try to transfer or emit anything to the oppressed classes, like a kind of benevolent charity. Rather, through its own militant action, it reveals the unintended effects of mass passivity and presents a viable alternative. The active minority is a practice in collective intentionality, in the face of popular indifference. It isn’t a political coalition; it’s a political concentration. And if they are to survive, social movements and popular organizations will need political concentrations, of unified militants, to make up parts of their ranks. What they don’t need are marketable political “brands” that use big-tent, umbrella labels and aim to serve as hyper-efficient decision-making centers, outside of the movements themselves.
Many political tendencies attempt to grow their ranks and spread their influence on the social level. This is a political tactic, and as a tactic, is not a problem whatsoever. Political influence only becomes a problem when it threatens popular organizing and social movements. Unlike the organizational dualism of especifismo, which distinguishes between the political and social levels in order to encourage the revolutionary potential of the latter, some leftist tendencies have ideological reasons for prioritizing their own organizational objectives over the demands of popular movements. Especifismo argues for the organization of both levels, without any hierarchical dynamics between them.
Ideologically, especifismo is an anarchist current which emphasizes strategic action. Its strategy is aimed at bringing about a social revolution. This means building power on the social level because it is the mass movements, not the ideologically specific movements, which have revolutionary potential. Even on the political level, especifismo is concerned with organizing anarchist militants, as a way of strengthening popular organizations, never threatening the social force of a revolutionary movement by using political force in antagonistic ways.
A question is often posed when considering education from an anarchist perspective: are anarchist educators obliged to teach anarchism, or should they let students arrive at these conclusions on their own? In the context of militant formation, that of the specific education of militants, this dilemma is irrelevant.
First of all, the militants themselves are already radicalized, and anyone else educating themselves by freely participating in militant formation is intentionally engaging in a radicalizing process. These people need training that provides them with concrete learning tools and methods that can be shared, reproduced, and modified, with other people, in other spaces. These tools must have an ideological bias; they must be revolutionary.
Secondly, militant formation is not about being indoctrinated or internalizing dogma. Too often, it is assumed that anarchist militants “believe” the most in revolution, or libertarian socialism, or freedom. This falsity is perpetuated in learning spaces, political spaces, and social spaces, obscuring an applicable understanding of what militancy is and why it is important. Probably, this comes from a confusion between militant commitment and extremism, which in the domain of education is the difference between determination and indoctrination. If education is to be liberating, it must acknowledge the free and present role of the people learning, of their subjecthood, of their agency and perspectives. This is not so that political education can be more effectively targeted to specific individuals but, rather, to accept the reality that individuals are free to do what they want with what they learn. Militant formation is always an ethical endeavor.
A militant positioned in a learning space is right up against a political line. Similarly, someone recently discovering militancy and continuing down a radicalizing path is positioned on the edge of the social level, with new questions about militant engagement just beginning to form, understanding more and more the purpose behind a unified organization of militants. What do we do with this knowledge? It could be ignored, omitted, hoarded, or toyed with, but no teacher gets to decide how a student takes their learning back into the world.
Capital accumulates power. It stores value, labor, memory, all sorts of things, and the logic of profit attempts to tap into this store. In order to combat capitalism, we must learn to develop our own revolutionary store, in the form of militant organization. In this way, our militancy can accumulate revolutionary value, in the form of communicable knowledge about class struggle, in the past, present, and future. The logic of a specific organization of anarchist militants opposes the logic of profit by strategically directing committed action to the struggles of the people, to whom it rightfully belongs. Through propaganda, solidarity, and education, we have to continue to make our militants more radical and to make class struggle more popular, otherwise our efforts will not accumulate revolutionary power.
International | Miscellaneous | en
Sun 02 Oct, 12:07
Personal statement on the Michael Schmidt affair: Lucien van der Walt, 11 February 2016 14:10 Fri 12 Feb 11 comments
Personal statement on the Michael Schmidt affair: Lucien van der Walt, 11 February 2016
Publications by Zabalaza Books, March - June 2012 17:20 Thu 14 Jun 0 comments
All new publications by Zabalaza Books from March till June 2012
New Publications from Zabalaza Books 16:19 Mon 23 Jan 0 comments
All new publications from Zabalaza Books for the month of January.
Facebook page of 'Black Flame' reorganised and rebooted 21:16 Tue 13 Dec 0 comments
The Facebook page of 'Black Flame' has been reorganised and rebooted, now carrying regular updates related to the book by Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt...
September 2011 publications from Zabalaza Books 21:56 Mon 14 Nov 0 comments
All publications from Zabalaza Books for the month of September
Blog updated: Lucien van der Walt: writings on political economy, policy, unions and class struggles 00:27 Wed 19 Jan 0 comments
This blog has been updated again, collecting materials on strikes, union education, a recent "anarchist survey," the Spanish and Russian Revolutions, and race/ class in South Africa. The overall aim of the page is to collect my my writings on political economy, policy, unions and class struggles. These are are written from a red-and-black anarchist/ syndicalist perspective, and go back to the 1990s.
New releases from Zabalaza Books - November 2010 19:58 Thu 04 Nov 0 comments
New additions to the Zabalaza Books site as of November 2010
On the suicide plane attack on the IRS offices in Austin 01:28 Sat 20 Feb 0 comments
Joe Stack recently committed suicide by crashing an airplane into the IRS offices in Austin, Texas. He left a manifesto describing the long path which had finally led him to this decision.
Back issues of Black Flag go online 04:01 Tue 05 May 0 comments
As Black Flag brings out it's May 2009 issue, we proudly present all three of the pre-2009 issues produced by the current collective, for free download from the libcom.org website.
Announcing the Institute for Anarchist Studies Web Site! 05:34 Sat 02 May 0 comments
Dear Friends and Comrades,
The Institute for Anarchist Studies (IAS) has newly relaunched its Web site, now available at http://www.anarchist-studies.org/.
International Anarchist Statement on Covid 19 Pandemic Feb 07 24 comments
The Covid 19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of human life. It has had a dev-astating effect on people’s physical and mental health, social relations and communities, our livelihoods, and freedom to move about. It has also significantly curtailed our ability to organise effective political protests and strengthened the hand of the State.
How do you say especifismo in English? Nov 11 0 comments
What is especifismo? Is it anarchism? What is an especifist organization? What does it do? Is it a political party? These questions, which may seem basic to some, are not uncommon. Using the Anarchist Federation of Rio de Janeiro’s (FARJ) Social Anarchism and Organisation, we can arrive at a more concrete understanding of the ideology, theory, strategy, and final objectives of especifismo. This is not a definitive study of especifismo. It is a close analysis of a single text. If this theory is to have an influence on the revolutionary strategies of social anarchists around the world, we must continue to expand our research on the subject. Today, this usually requires working in multiple languages or with translations. For this reason, anglophone anarchists quickly arrive at the end of the available literature on the subject. This text is intended to add to an amassing canon of English-language writings on the subject.
Text on Structures: theoretical analysis material developed by FAG- FAU and currently CALA's base ma... Oct 03 0 comments
More stable and slowly changing structures condition the camp of social relations proper. They are a totality where each sphere has a specific and differentiated form of relationship. The separation for analysis always suggests two things: that they belong to a common whole and that they have their particularities.
The Gift That Keeps on Giving…Hatred for the Ruling Classes Dec 21 0 comments
The true meaning of Christmas.
Grave diggers: the grim tale of states, capitalism and COVID-19 Jul 15 0 comments
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it often seems as if we are stuck in a dystopian movie. In this movie death is stalking us, hospitals overflow with the sick and dying, and the grave diggers are at work. We know more victims will soon die as the folly of millions of workers being forced by circumstances to return into cramped mines, banks, factories and warehouses is so evident. Those that are no longer needed by the billionaires who own the companies are marshalled daily by the police and military dishing out violence and on occasion, humiliation, to underline their power and the power of their bosses. It all feels so unreal, a ghastly movie playing out before our eyes.
The trauma of it all has led many people to seek solace in fiction or conspiracy theories. It can be morbidly comforting to believe in fantasy in times of strife. We, however, fall into such fantasies at our own peril. When we try and deny reality and escape from it – even if we are traumatised – we are left powerless. We miss that all of this has to do with the workings and power relations that define our everyday lives – the very workings and power relations of capitalism and state systems.