An Open Letter to ‘Reclaim the Streets’
There has been a radical shift, in radical politics, from single issue campaigns within capitalism to attacks on capitalism as a system. As one focus for this shift “Reclaim the Streets” is to be commended. However, whilst J18 attacked capitalism as a whole, using the City as a focus, there was a worrying trend during N30 to make Seattle and the WTO—”fair trade not free trade”—the focus, thus leaving capitalism as a whole unscathed.
There are no nice capitalists. Capitalists in the Third World are just as ruthless and just as exploitative as their First World brethren. The debate over globalisation is a ruling class debate over how they divide the spoils from their collective exploitation of us. A peasant gets peanuts for growing peanuts because that is the going rate for peanuts in the world economy. If the price of peanuts is raised, the local exploiter will gain at the expense of the First World importer, and the peasant still gets peanuts. Anyone still unsure of the rapacity of Third World rulers should take a quick look at Burma/Myanmar, Indonesia, etc. As revolutionaries we should fight the collective war between us and the ruling class, not play the hostage game at their bargaining table.
We have nothing to say to our rulers on how to run capitalism, we should not be drawn into fighting their battles, and we should certainly not be drawn into rolling history back instead of forwards, as a global revolution must be made globally.
Thankfully the Leftwing is dying. Good riddance! It was always the campaign for “real” i.e. manufacturing capitalism against finance and landed interests, and its demise is only a sign of capitalism’s maturity, not its triumph. We must return to the working class agenda, subverted by the Left, of calling for the abolition of capitalism rather than its “fair” administration. In a world where we are the slaves of many masters rather than one, and are told that the choice of masters is our freedom, the only action of any meaning to us is the abolition of the wages system, and thus of work as we understand it. A world which we own, and create, has no place in it for ruining men and women’s minds and bodies with employment, enslavement, or any other constraint on their mutual enjoyment of their creations. But be warned—the Left is trying to subvert your movement! The SWP, in particular, has been seen trying to recruit young and eager minds with their state capitalist poison, even at regular RTS co-ordination meetings when you and others are not represented.
The use of violence is counterproductive, as many in RTS realise. The state is strongest in its use of force, and weakest in its legitimisation of that force. Virtually all of the state’s hired thugs and hired killers are working class, from working class homes, and only function within mass organisations of repression because the state explains their actions to them as being in society’s interests. Ten years ago, Eastern Europe learned how impotent these forces are against a working class which has destroyed state legitimacy by peaceful action. As a class we run society from top to bottom, and revolutionary action lies in effectively communicating that message to each other: once legitimacy falls, the state falls. This is precisely why these forces provoke violence, with snatch squads, baton charges and horses, so that we will respond with violence and justify their repression. You don’t need to keep it fluffy—sullen resentment will do fine.
As members of the World Socialist Movement, we are glad to see the emergence of organisations attacking capitalism as a system rather than merely its particular evils. In Britain, we in the Socialist Party have stood since 1904 for the abolition of capitalism, and the establishment of socialism, i.e. the abolition of money, private property and the state. For most of that time the working class agenda has been dominated by those who said that socialism was about running capitalism better, be it Russia, China, Cuba, Labour, Sweden, etc. Now that this presence is lifting we find that many thousands have arrived at the same conclusions as ourselves, but have organised along the lines of the anarchist tradition. Whilst its diversity has allowed revolutionary ideas to flourish (as well as several reactionary ones!) it has the opposite problem to the Left. They are monolithic, but anarchism is fragmented.
We can only hope that RTS develops beyond its teething troubles, by shedding particular campaigns for the improvement of capitalism, into a general and radical attack on capitalism itself. You already have that programme in ideal, via the Situationists who seem to inspire much of your propaganda. We ourselves have spent nearly a century struggling for an authentic socialist movement, and understand the difficulties. We have a history, theory and organisation designed precisely for that revolutionary project towards which RTS is hopefully heading. We would urge all those in RTS who back the project for abolishing capitalism to meet and discuss with our organisation. We both have things to learn.
Contact us. Our branches are listed on a link from our home page, or email our Head Office, again from our home page. We look forward to hearing from you.
Yours for world socialism,