This raises some important criticisms of the issues of political hegemony and anarchist groups falling into its trap. However I think on the whole the program is good, but far too vague. The creation of new socio-economic institutions and strategies is far too important to be left to the vagueness of this manifesto. Thus in creating new space, which Gavroche recommends, there needs to be fluid construction of new imaginaries and the placing of location in relation to new economic conceptions. Instead of an overarching program of politico-economic change, they should aim to decentralise their ideology and work through an overarching conception of resistance to neoliberalism, much like elements of the anti-globalisation movement. This way capitalism in all its national and corporate forms can be tackled at multiple levels and in different ways. (by the blog author)
by Julius Gavroche
Over the course of the last year or two, numerous initiatives have emerged in spain (and more recently in greece) to organise and federate anarchist groups into larger, more embracing and therefore, it is assumed, more effective political agents. Among the many examples, one finds the catalan based Procés Embat and the initiative that emerged in Madrid under the name of Apoyo Mutuo.
With spain’s political parties today negotiating for the crumbs of parliamentary hegemony, after the December 20 national elections, three days before the elections, Apoyo Mutuo published a political program that sought to push the debate beyond the simple management of existing misery and oppression.
We share the document below, in translation, for its intrinsic interest, but also to initiate and contribute to further debate about the need for anarchist organisation, as well as perhaps around some of the principles stated below. We have had the occasion to express doubts about the presumed need for more general organisational forms before (click here). We therefore limit ourselves on this occasion to commenting on the possible limits of the Apoyo Mutuo program.
Central to the program is the demand for counter-hegemony, the need to construct social relations of autonomy that openly contest State and capitalist forms of social life. However politically reasonable this may sound (and the vagueness of the remainder of the document makes it impossible for it to be anything more than a point of departure for further discussion), there is an inherent risk in any political project that aspires to hegemony, namely that it reproduces the very same forms of power that it seeks to bring to an end. This is the game of Podemos, as the party’s leadership has so often repeated, and it is a goal that anarchists should be terribly wary of. Because once the struggle for hegemony is assumed, the debate between political movements, and those claiming to be anti-capitalist, will be one inevitably limited to matters of political efficiency. In other words, “means” will be fought over, while the “end” becomes ever more distant, if not altogether lost.
An anarchist movement, or better, anarchist movements and practices, should instead seek to withdraw, to retreat from State-Capital, aiming not at a counter-power, a dual power, but an anti-power, a non-power, that is, forms-of-life that are elaborations of non-State and non-Capitalist social relations. Giorgio Agamben has spoken of the need for a destituente power, a power beyond sovereignty, beyond private property. It is this perhaps that needs above all to be thought through, something that was exemplified, however briefly, in the “occupy” movements that began in late 2010. These were anonymous political movements that refused to make demands on established political authorities, that created self-managed spaces of autonomy, and which in a very profound sense, simply ignored the State and Capital. That did not thereby render them “impotent”. However, their power cannot be judged in terms of how they shaped or effected policy at the State level, or how they could in turn gain power in existing political institutions. Their power lay rather in the profound way that they were able to give life to new radical collective subjectivities beyond capitalist ways of life. And if there is a tragedy in these movements, outside of their repression, it was the reduction of this creativity to pre-existing political possibilities.
Podemos is not the mature incarnation of a naive 15M. And nor should anarchists measure their political relevance by comparison with such political party actors, or any other politics of hegemony, for mutual aid becomes reality only when the politics of hegemony is abandoned.
What further difficulties we have with the Apoyo Mutuo program are related to the use of such concepts as the “environment”, “human rights”, “animal rights”, which are, we believe, problematic for the elaboration of a truly radical anarchist politics.
Having however made these observations, our goal is again not to dismiss the exercise, but rather to invite further reflection.
The program follows …
A program for a democracy of persons
From Apoyo Mutuo, we wish to present our “political program” as part of the democratic society we want to build. We understand that the development of this model of society needs an organised people. These people, organised the different domains everyday life, social struggles and existing politics, constitutes Popular Power; our strategic project to achieve a democracy that overcomes capitalism and the State.
Popular Power is thus a strategy. In addition to gathering forces, resources and experiences, it constitutes itself as a power that disputes different areas of hegemony (cultural, political, economic, territorial …), as well as the current hegemonic power of the ruling classes, organized around the State. This accumulation of forces will permit the overthrow of the established power and and inaugurate a democratic program.
Here we present our idea. A program based on the collective ownership of property that allow a democratic and egalitarian economy that will sustain a political democracy, with the development of a few simple points. We know that they are not the only ones and that disagreement may exist, so we invite everyone to review, criticise and deepen each.
We propose the following program driven by the principles of freedom, equality and solidarity, as well as respect for the environment we inhabit.
We understand freedom positively, as an opportunity for each individual to develop autonomously without economic or political constraints.
We understand equality and the defense of human rights for all people without differences based on ethnicity, place of birth, gender, age, economic status or sexual orientation.
We understand solidarity as the practice of mutual aid in all our relationships with others, individually and collectively.
We understand the respect for our environment as the cornerstone that allows for the free development of human societies that do not mortgage their future.
Decision-making through assemblies, referendums and representation under mandatory instructions and immediate recall.
Management of common affairs through democratic and federalist popular associations.
Territorial decentralisation down to easily managed small scales (such as districts, neighborhoods or regions).
Economic planning and job sharing so that the rights of all people are assured.
Priority of concern with the needs of the population and prohibition of usury.
Collective ownership of the means of production, distribution and investment, as well as natural resources.
Application of ecological criteria to all economic activity, with the goal of food and energy sovereignty.
Public services (health, education, housing, public transport, justice, pensions, care and other support) managed collectively, free and of quality.
Elimination of social structures and prejudices that foster inequality and discrimination based on ethnic, gender, birthplace, age, economic status or sexual orientation.
An integrating and non-violent legal system, truly focused on the reintegration of individuals.
Elimination of the current prison system and amnesty for all of those punished for crimes related to poverty.
Secularism and the limitation of religion to the personal sphere.
Balanced distribution of population in the territory. Development of rural areas and re-ruralisation.
Sustainable, livable, and healthy cities, with large green areas and gardens.
Respect for the rights of animals.