Communism From Below

Dec, 2019

It is the task of a revolutionary organization to synchronize with cutting edge ideas and practices of our historical conjuncture. Within the global revolutionary left, the conceptual terrain has shifted dramatically. It is necessary for us to further articulate a politics of collective liberation, and to clarify and defend our practice as a cadre organization. With the resurgence of reformist social-democracy repackaged as “socialism” and a growing interest in revolutionary feminist, anarchist, and marxist currents, the irrepressible idea of communism from below is primed for a triumphant return to the stage of history.

- OFS, Richmond Branch

Communism From Below or The Politics of Collective Liberation

  1. Communism is the politics of collective liberation, the real movement of the multitude of oppressed social groups within, against, and beyond the global imperialist system. Actualizing the overthrow and abolition of the conditions of our oppression by the dominant structures of heteropatriarchy, capitalism, white supremacy, and the authoritarian state, this real movement brings to an end the social relations of alienation, exploitation, and dependency that currently dominate everyday life.

  2. Communism is feminism, as the communist revolution is, first and foremost, a radical transformation on the terrain of social reproduction, creating a new molecular basis for the ongoing material reproduction of everyday life according to an ethics of autonomy within solidarity. The personal is political, and the political is personal: we shall prefigure the relations of communism as we struggle for liberation against imperialism. Communism posits a new form of politics that draws no distinction between public and private, organizing itself according the real rhythms of everyday life. Politics does not exist “elsewhere,” on some extraterrestrial plane, but in our every day interactions and actions. Direct actions to visibilize the invisible and to overthrow and abolish the everyday divisions between manual/conceptual, rote/empowering, public private forms of social activity constitute a pillar of communism’s feminist revolution. The whole of imperialism’s regulatory and repressive apparatus must be smashed by the insurrectional activity of the revolutionary movement, as the instruments of war, repression, and genocide cannot be refashioned to win liberation.

  3. Communism is the abundance of free time. By abolishing the subordination of everyday life to the reproduction of empire and valorization of capital through our waged and unwaged labor, and reducing the amount of socially-necessary labor-time, communism opens pathways for a plurality of free time for autonomous use and our all-around development as communal individuals.

  4. Communism arises from below. Communist revolution is a grassroots process that does not aim to “scale-up” to the imperialist leviathan. Rather, it is committed to the political transformation of social relations in particular places, rooted in particular territories, which subsequently constitute alter-globalizing networks and federations on the basis of free association.

  5. The nuclei of communist systems arise from the proliferation of diverse forms of organized autonomy, manifesting through grassroots social movements, alternative institutions, and popular defense forces, and the preservation and consolidation of these diverse forms into a common fighting network through the united front’s one big movement of movements.

  6. Communization refers to the immanent processes of constructing alternative ways of living together outside and against the values and structures of the imperialist system through countercultures based on new affective relations, counterappropriations that redirect the flow of social wealth towards meeting collective needs and desires, and the eventual construction of territorial counterpower based on new institutions. The material basis for communism exists in our midst. It is the task of revolutionaries to catalyze popular grassroots struggles and initiate a direct transition towards such social relations, institutions, structures, and systems, accepting a protracted transitional phase only as an unfortunately necessary consequence of the struggle between oppressor and oppressed, inheritance of the burdens of the past, and imperialism’s counter-revolutionary encirclement.

  7. Elements of a communist alternative can emerge informally through everyday practices of mutual aid and collective refusal, especially within contexts of hardship, crisis, and disaster that imperialism regularly imposes upon our bodies and communities. The communist political organization should aim to support and strengthen these informal practices, ultimately cultivating horizontal networks through processes of communization.

  8. Communism ruptures the dialectics of empire. The communist revolution does not emerge organically from the dialectical relations of imperialism (such as the class struggle between labor and capital), but from a revolutionary rupture with the imperialist system’s structural logic and values, characterized by simultaneous withdrawal and attack. Withdrawal refers to creating spaces of freedom or areas of autonomy that prefigure the relations of communist systems outside and beyond imperialism. Attack refers to the direct assault upon the value practices, structural foundations, and social reproduction of the imperialist system itself.

  9. The communist revolution presents itself as an immense multiplication of commons, councils, and communes. Commons are resource systems shared by all for our collective socio-ecological reproduction. Councils are autonomous participatory assemblies responsible for the general administration of everyday social life, creating working groups and task forces as needed, and forming federated networks to coordinate across time and space. Communes are free cities, autonomous urban social formations based on dense networks of commons and councils that constitute the territorial basis for communist systems.

  10. Communist systems establish a self-regulating socio-ecological metabolism, leading a complete reconfiguration of planetary transportation, energy, and communication infrastructure and the extractive economies that imperialism relies upon. Only communist social systems are capable of guiding a just transition to a liberated more-than-human future in the age of anthropogenic climate change.

  11. Communism necessitates the alter-globalization of the social revolution through transnational networks of revolutionary organizations and federations of liberated territories, or counterstates. The continuous revolution is the antithesis of empire, counteracting the globalization of imperialism with the alter-globalization of queer/trans feminist, indigenist, decolonial, proletarian, autonomist, and ecological transformations. Even after the overthrow of the authoritarian state within the borders of a given territory, the communist social revolution must open permanent constituent processes that lead to the autonomous reconfiguration and realization of our collective needs and desires.

  12. Imperialism’s permanent social war tasks the revolutionary left with forging prefigurative vehicles of organized political combat, or cadre organizations of a new type. Formed on the basis of autonomous local groups of cadre, the revolutionary communist political organization is horizontally-networked and ideologically-coherent, capable of articulating the programmatic unity of diverse social forces and spawning new ways of life on the local level, culminating with the formation of local united fronts. While the membership of the local groups should embed ourselves within the everyday grassroots struggles against the imperialist system through the formation of autonomous clusters, we should remain cautious of the dangers posed by reformism and assimilation within such contexts. Ultimately, we must create autonomous relations, spaces, and organizational forms that are outside and against the imperialist system. Our aim is to support, reinforce, reproduce, complement, push, and accelerate militant grassroots struggles towards communist outcomes.

  13. A communist social system has never been successfully constructed and stabilized, though elements of it have emerged in the social revolutionary struggles of the Paris Commune of 1871, Russian Revolution of 1917, German Revolution of 1918, Spanish Revolution of 1936, Shanghai Commune of 1967, theguerrilla base areas of decolonial liberation wars throughout the Global South from Cuba to Vietnam to Angola to El Salvador, the French general strike based on the worker-student alliance in 1968, the insurrectional forms of counterpower created in Italy from 1966-1980, South Korea’s Gwangju Commune of 1980, the territorialization of autonomous workers’ movements following Argentina’s 1998-2002 economic crisis, the landless workers’ movement of Brazil, and the Rojava Revolution in Syrian Kurdistan. We draw inspiration from these historical-geographical conjunctures to construct a revolutionary political imaginary to informour praxis. Such conjunctures will continue to arise, and we hope to link localized upsurges into a worldwide revolutionary wave that ultimately smashes the global imperialist system and opens possibilities for the alter-globalization of communist alternatives.

  14. While no rigid blueprints are required or desired, the stimulation of vast communist imaginaries as new world-images can assist us with the invention of visionary alternatives to the global imperialist system. Such imaginaries are of central importance to the development of an ethical revolutionary praxis. In particular, we should envision forms of socio-ecological life that span the spheres of kinship, community, polity, and economy to inspire, guide, and fuse our everyday life and struggles with revolutionary praxis.

  15. There is no electoral road to communism. It is not the responsibility of revolutionaries to prolongate the lifespan of the imperialist system, but to bring it to a swift and decisive end. To the extent that participation in electoral organizing is useful to the cause of social revolution, it is to agitate and educate on behalf of communism, and to advocate, win, and defend reforms within the restrictions of the imperialist system that have the potential to open further space for autonomous forms of struggle. Under no circumstances should revolutionaries be deceived into thinking that the authoritarian state can be wielded to gradually construct the core institutional structures of communist systems: the state must besmashed, and communist alternatives constructed from below.

Cadre Organization or Autonomous Networks of Revolutionary Struggle

  1. The word cadre is of French origin, meaning “framework.” A cadre organization provides a framework for the gathering, testing, consolidation, and networked coordination of local groups and clusters of revolutionary organizers. The organization as a whole provides a framework for struggle through which a broader revolutionary movement of movements, and corresponding areas of autonomy, can be created and defended.

  2. Cadre have emerged in cycles and circuits of struggle for at least several centuries, encompassing the workers’ movement, decolonial liberation wars, anti-fascist partisans, the New Left, and the more recent alter-globalization, student, environmental, Occupy, and Black Lives Matter movements. Groups of cadre often emerge informally, forged through collective participation in a common struggle. One of the functions of the cadre organization is to make this relationship explicit, transparent, and widely reproducible across historical-geographical time-space, consolidating these emergent groups into a common network before they dissipate, creating spaces of intergenerational continuity, and maintaining practices consistent with revolutionary communist analysis, vision, and strategy.

  3. Cadre are not “the leaders of the revolution,” but dedicated organizers who voluntarily adhere to a politics of collective liberation, and the principles of collective responsibility and accountability. Cadre organization breaks-down the cult of the organizer as a singular individual (a conception that is perfectly fitting to our atomized neoliberal present, propagated and perpetuated by the non-profit industrial complex). Instead, the cadre organization is a collective organizer, with expanding horizontal networks of local groups and clusters, autonomous means of communication and decision, and projects that hack, seize, and collectivize the means of socio-ecological reproduction.

  4. Cadre organization names a center for the production and circulation of revolutionary ideology and communal relations of autonomy. Cadre organization is the antithesis of the hierarchical mass party, with its layers of bureaucratic functionaries, legions of loyal followers, and audacious claims to represent the working class, the oppressed, the people, even the whole of the human species. Instead, cadre organizations are parties of autonomy, articulated as vibrant communities of care and critical self-assesssment populated by revolutionary organizers, living embodiments of a communism from below based on shared affinities.

  5. It takes organizers to make revolution, and cadre organization provides a mobile base area for organizing our collective capacity to act. Cadre organizations are hybrid machines for transforming the “should be” into the “is.” Cadre implicate ourselves – our own subjectivity, our positional locations within and against imperialism, and our activities at these locations – into every analysis: the personal is political, and the political is personal. The cadre organization functions as a headquarters of revolutionary struggle, a place and space for communication, a community of care, a coven of communist witches conjuring spells of liberation, from which clusters of comrades can be formed on the basis of common affinities, crafting autonomous forms of social reproduction on the basis of feminist lifecenters. As an organizational form, it synthesizes the anarchic affinity group as a horizontal space based on common relations of solidarity with the autonomous party-cell as a center for the ongoing coordination and critical self-assessment of revolutionary organizing. Spawning lasting groups for the formulation of analyses and strategies, cadre organization is an army for organized political combat within and against the imperialist social order.

  6. A cadre organization should be capable of adapting itself to adverse conditions, utilizing diverse forms of political activity, taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety, security, protection of its members while maintaining and intensifying the antagonism of the revolutionary struggle in the face of repression. Only such a compact political organization designed to survive and thrive within the context of imperialism’s social war will be capable of enduring the hardships of disaster while simultaneously planting and harvesting the seeds of alternative worlds within the shell of the old. Tactical flexibility, or the diversity of tactics chosen according to a strategic and operational assessment of our context. The cadre organization should develop the capacity to defend against empire’s attempts to disarticulate the composition of our movements, and accelerate the movement of movements towards communism from below.

  7. Cadre organization provides scaffolding for the construction of territorial counterpower within, against, and beyond global imperialism. It aims to network partial struggles into an articulated counter-hegemonic bloc, fusing the movement of movements with cohesive narratives, producing and circulating theoretical analyses of the present conjuncture, and providing spaces for the coproduction of knowledge, skills, and experiences with new revolutionaries through direct participation.

  8. Cadre organization stands opposed to populism’s lowest common denominator politics. Instead, communist organizing takes place through militant coresearch to record ongoing counter-histories of struggle, to craft narratives that link partial struggles to a total counter-hegemonic struggle for counterpower, reflect back and summarize the lessons of success and failure learned throughout the course of partial struggles, and, perhaps most importantly, to create spaces for encounter and lasting organizational forms. Cadre organization aims to discover forms of life and struggle appropriate to our unique conjuncture.

  9. Our particular cadre organization is one project among many, which find commonalities through the creation, expansion, consolidation of horizontally-networked infrastructure. Within the cadre organization itself, currents will be formed to articulate a variety of different perspectives and paths, within the overall counter-ideological framework initially established by the organization. Build the protracted revolutionary struggle, from below and to the left!