Much of my time today is spent advocating for the need of an objective and functional program for anarchists in the United States. This is an ever present and paramount need, yet there’s very little out there about what an anarchist program ought to look like, what it is composed of and what exactly are its practical applications.
There are prerequisites to creating an political program, and attaining these prerequisites will shape our program and subsequently our strategy as anarchists. It is also important to note that, most likely, there will be not single, unified program and strategy to all anarchists in the U.S., but many different yet similar and complementary strategies.
The Political Analysis
The analysis of the current situation – its different forces and the relationship of power they share now – is the first and perhaps the most important step in creating a strategy.
Much of what we see being called political analysis today tends to focus on the other, particularly the other of the activities of the ruling class (the most recent war or attack on working people) or the other of movements outside our immediate range (Bolívia, Palestine, Argentina or Korea, for example.) While all these factors are important, the political analysis should be primarily focused on the situation in the United States; it should tally up the forces of reaction and the ones for revolution, it should try to understand what those forces aim at and consider how they might act to reach their goals.
To be a practical tool, political analysis must be precise. It cannot be optimistic (the Oscar Grant protests are the beginning of the uprising of the black youth!) , nor pessimistic (Fascism is here!), no matter what our feelings may be. It should not be one-sided, but it must take in consideration that every social act requires at leas two protagonists, even if one is just passive. We should be brutally honest with ourselves as the Left in considering our strengths – yes we are tiny, but how tiny? Where is our sphere influence? Where can we affect change?
We should use words and concepts carefully and specifically to mean what they mean – we are not living in a fascist society, nor in the Great Depression of the thirties. While comparison can be an useful tool, it is only so when we are clear about the difference as well as the similarities between the two or more situations.
Political analysis should also be clear about the motivations and needs of social forces, and separate possible consequences from what those needs are. Glenn Beck’s bosses are not keen on fascism, but did not disparage at whipping up fascistoid elements in the American right in order to reach their goals, specially because they think they can control those elements. If we keep a historical perspective, which a good political analysis should do, it is debatable if they can.
The best political analysis will be still incomplete, but it should give a clear picture of the historical elements and forces at play in at a determined moment.
The Analysis of Our Own Power
This is a refining of the previous exercise, but focused entirely specifically on anarchists. Sometimes it can be even more focused, and be entirely focused on one particular organization or region of the country. The more focused it gets, the more helpful it will be.
I particularly think that, given the current situation of anarchists and anti-authoritarian left forces in the in the U.S., there can be no real national strategy except building local power. Strong local organizations can later on get together to try and formulate a national strategy. There are some that disagree with that, and that is fine. The question to be answered is where and how can you affect the most change? That includes not only different social struggles, but different groups in that social struggle, different situations (material, geographic, etc.) and different angles of the same struggle.
Again, precision is everything. We must not let our aspirations and politics blur our vision when categorizing these aspects of a social struggle. There isn’t just the revolutionaries and the masses; there is the conscious revolutionary (libertarian or authoritarian), the movement activist (normally espousing a uncoalesced vision of “social justice”), the active participant (those participating in the movement for particular gains such as housing, better working conditions or an end to police brutality against a specific community). There are movements of the lower-middle classes and upper-working classes (such as the movement around foreclosures), the movement of the working poor (such as movements of the unemployed) and movements of the most economically brutalized (such as movements of homeless people). I could go on giving examples of other different categorizations, but what I am trying to say is that these different categories are affected is different ways by our ideological propaganda, by our actions and by our proposals (both practical, on the ground proposal and proposal for a future, re-organized society).
Well, that’s all for now folks, I’m not trying to write a book in this post. Next time I’ll be looking at the intersection between the political analysis and analysis of our own power, and the hurdles around creating an anarchist political program.