5.03.2008

Revolutionaries Shall Inherit The Earth.

I've decided that it's time to let other people have their voices and opinions heard, right here, on my blog. Ergo, the time of interviews has come! My first interview to be completed is by fellow esteemed blogger Daniel Owen. Here is what he has to say;

Q: Explain your preferred political affiliation of Anarcho - Syndicalism.

A: The German revolutionary Rudolph Rocker once said that anarchism is the product of the two great European social movements that followed one after another: socialism and liberalism. What this means is that anarchism stands for both individual liberty and social equality -- in fact, we hold that you can't have one without the other.

Anarcho-syndicalism, or revolutionary syndicalism, holds that a free society can only come about by the self-activity of working people organised federally and freely to fight the capitalist, commercial classes and the State. Having seen the failures of trades unionism, which organises (or rather disorganises) workers irrationally, working-class militants in England, France, America and other countries developed industrial unionism -- a key part of Anarcho-syndicalism. Industrial unionism means that we're organised by industry, not by trade, and we stand for One Big Union of working people. Solidarity is strength. Recently, America has seen the in-fighting in the working-class movement between Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members and California Nurses Association (CNA) members. Industrial unionism, syndicalism, aims to unite working people, not divide them like the scab unions do.

The "revolutionary" prefix to syndicalist means we aren't content to just fight for a few more crumbs and a longer leash. As revolutionary syndicalists, Anarcho-syndicalists, we believe that the means of production belong in the hands of those who work them and that the fruits of labour belong to producers.

We do not believe, like Marxists, that the State will die a natural death. We believe it must die a violent death -- how violent is up to the ruling class.

Q: As an Anarcho Syndicalist, what immediate changes to society do you feel are pertinent for attaining the ideal political goals of syndicalism? What long term changes are needed?

A: Industrial unionism, resistance to the State, a "culture of resistance", counter-institutions, "friendly societies" that provide mutual aid to members. There was a day when unions provided insurance to members, rather than putting the individual in the hands of State bureaucrats. We need to get back to that practice. We also need to regain control of education by fighting the State-school agenda. We need to fight for higher wages and lower taxes so working people can use their hard-earned money themselves. We need to fight racism and also the cultural plundering of our diverse cultures. We need to fight imperialistic war and domestic totalitarianism. We need to bring power back where it belongs -- with individuals and communities. We need self-education, self-awareness and self-responsibility.

In the long-run, we need to put the means of production in the hands they belong in -- those that work 'em! Like we've seen in Argentina in recent years, I believe direct expropriation of firms by workers is a moral and social imperative. We need to break up the land monopolies, the credit and money monopolies, the property monopolies. We need to fight usury -- the exploitation of capital and labour. And this means not only "firing the boss" and instituting worker self-management, it also means fighting the State. Political power needs to be decentralised, democratised, individualised, and simplified. Free association and federalism is the name of the game.

Q: What problems do you foresee, or have experienced, with regards to Syndicalism? What aspects of it have worked, in your experience?

A: Industrial unionism brings workers together on a much more rock-solid basis and grassroots-control ensures liberty, militancy and moral vigour. And in organising individuals for the overthrow of the existing order, it creates a new morality in the shell of the old -- it creates that social conscience unique to revolutionary armies. Social war will be the flood that sweeps all the accumulated dirt away.

Q: What is your general opinion of Democratic Republics? List what you think is beneficial, what is detrimental.

A:It depends what you mean. The French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said, and I agree with the old geezer, that "democracy" in its' true form is just anarchy -- self-rule by the people. "Rule of the people." That is anarchy. But Parliamentary "democracy" is the cruelest lie of all, because it is just that -- a lie.

Looking at history, you can see that "democracy" as we know it is just a flaking coat of paint, slapped onto the oligarchical State to avoid popular revolution. Just look at the history books!

Q: What is your general opinion of Socialism, and Communism?

A: The German philosopher Oswald Spengler once said that, nowadays, everybody is a socialist even if they refuse to recognise it. I know I'm a socialist -- but to me that means I believe in a society based on cooperation, mutuality and workers' ownership of the means of production. To a Marxist, "socialism" means something radically different -- State-ownership of the means of production and distribution in the case of a Bolshevik, and State-interference in the economy in the case of a Social Democrat. Capitalists also believe in State-interference in the economy -- in fact, capitalism is overwhelmingly typified by Statist economic muddling. There could be no capitalism without the State, as anarchist economist Kevin Carson likes to point out. The only people who supposedly don't like the State and also support capitalism are right-wing "libertarians" -- and their utopian idea hasn't yet been seen in history (and also, to complicate things, the destruction of the State means a non-capitalist, socialist, economy). When it comes down to it, these supposed "libertarians" end up supporting massive State totalitarianism -- Ludwig von Mises, the Austrian capitalist "radical", said Nazism saved Western civilisation, while everybody's favorite scumbag Milton Freeman was all warm and cuddly with General Pinochet's ruthless dictatorship.

The great poet Robert Frost once wrote "'Men work together,' I told him from the heart, 'Whether they work together or apart.'" One way or another, by free cooperation or by the State, we are all "socialists", so to speak...

But I believe genuine socialism is working-class, libertarian and populist -- owing nothing to Statist solutions or new class oligarchies. In fact sense, socialism and anarchism and syndicalism are interchangeable words. In this sense, I do not believe that Russia or China or (depending on who you listen to) the USA or Britain were or are socialist -- I would call these societies capitalist and Statist to varying degrees.

Q: If a true Anarcho-Syndicalist society has never existed, what makes you think that it would work in the long term, vs, say Democracies, or other forms of Government?

A:We've seen great anarchist experiments with large numbers of people in the Ukraine, Spain, Manchuria, Hungary, Portugal and currently parts of Southern Mexico (Chiapis) and in Argentina. Also, the "free communes" of the Medieval Ages and the federal structures between them, lasted for a very long time -- sometimes several hundred years, if I'm not incorrect -- and served as a great inspiration for libertarians, specifically Peter Kropotkin. William Morris, the great English socialist, took inspiration from the traditional "folkmoot" egalitarian polities of olden days.

Q: How does Syndicalism address ecological issues?

A:Ecological issues have always been a concern of our movement. Early libertarian socialists, such as William Morris and Peter Kropotkin, were pioneers in ecology. We believe human-scale social structures will also be Nature-friendly.

Q: How does Syndicalism address religious issues?

A:We do not. Libertarian socialists have always believed in freedom of individual conscience -- we believe in total individual freedom except where that freedom impinges upon the freedom of others.

Q: Because economies are now global, and capitalism has seeped into almost every corner, how would a Syndicalist economy work on a global scale?

A:I don't quite understand the question. Free association, federalism, and free exchange can work on any scale. That being said, I believe in national economic economic self-sufficiency and local autonomy in many areas of economic life.

Q: Finally, are you anything like Dennis the Constitutional Peasant?

A:Yes. I personally fucking hate aristocrats. And I tend to be dirty after a day's work in the fields. But I don't shout "Help, help I'm being oppressed." I jab the bastards in the gut with my pitchfork! If I took up whining, college campuses full of Lefties would be out of a profession...

All the Best,

-- Daniel Owen

Daniel Owen is a blogger, a writer, an Anarcho-Syndicalist and a laugh riot, when he wants to be. You can see more about Daniel, and read more about his thoughts on life, government, and Anarcho-Syndicalism at Strength and Freedom As well as English Socialism.

9 comments:

Don Lewis said...

Excellent entirely!

Good Job Daniel. Succinct, entertaining, and understandable.

And Anok. Excellent, intelligent and well-pointed questions.

That was a joy to read on both your parts and a great start to your series. I look forward to the rest of them.

kdawg68 said...

Very interesting read on one of our more interesting characters in the blogcatalog community (Daniel).

Absolutely loved the "Denis" reference at the end! :)

My only main point of disagreement is with industrial unions. I'd point out that the UAW, for example, is absolutely killing the "big 3" auto makers and causing them to have to cut jubs wherever they can. I read in automotive news last year that Ford was paying hundreds of millions in salaries to people to sit around and watch soap operas and play video games becaue they were too protected by the union and firing them would be too costly.

My mind just sees this as inefficient. I'm actually glad that my employer isn't unionized. I'd see it as just a big beurocratic mess if they did.

That being said, excellent responses from Daniel. Well worth the read and the digg you just received.

Thanks to you for coming up with the idea of these interviews, Anok, and thanks to Daniel for candidly responding.

Alex Mcone said...

Wow, Andy Capp from Blogcatalog wrote that ?

I dont agree with some points but man does this guy write well. He almost had me convinced.

I've never really liked democracy because coming from the world's largest democracy I know how corrupt and ineffecient it can be.

However I fail to see how industrialized union's can solve the problem. I'm not going to start a debate, that's just how I feel.

But man what an interview, well thought out questions and spell-binding answers. Daniel ... Bravo!

Great post Anok, I really really enjoyed this.

Anok said...

I'll let Daniel field questions about unions, as I have my own opinions, but this is about his voice on the matter.

Alex, Daniel is a fantastic writer, which is why I convinced him to join BC. I felt that he needed to get a broader audience, and so I forced him into it :D

I have been impressed with his blog since he started it.

Daniel Owen said...

Btw, it's David Friedman not "David Freeman." Quick correction there.

kdawg -- The Ford company stabbed its workers in the back, trying to cut jobs and ship those jobs overseas. The UAW has tried to fight this, but the UAW leadership is caught between pressure by members and the fact that they have a sweet "bond of friendship" with Ford. Bureaucratic union leadership have sold out their members. This is one of the prime problems we anarcho-syndicalists have with the bureaucratic trade unions.

More information on revolutionary syndicalism can be found at

The Anarcho-Syndicalist Review
http://www.syndicalist.org/

International Workers Association
http://www.iwa-ait.org/

Anarcho-Syndicalism 101
http://www.anarchosyndicalism.net/index.php

IWW Culture, History, and Library
http://www.iww.org/en/culture

Cheers

Daniel Owen said...

Alex, Don, kdawg -- Thanks for the nice words.

Alex -- The idea is that industrial unionism can organise working people better for day-to-day struggle for wages and conditions, and can pave the road for direct expropriation of the means of production by workers.

We're laying the foundations now, in our capitalist Parliamentary system, for a future Cooperative Commonwealth of Labour. The shell of the new in the ashes of the old, like.

We are alone in the labour movement for not only advocating revolution, but also practising revolution by preparing for a new society now.

Cheers

Tamera said...

Well.....I liked this.

Drowsey Monkey said...

Excellent interview... great to delve more into Daniel's mind. :)

timethief said...

Thanks so much for publishing this interview. I read the entire thing three times now and when doing so I found myself nodding in agreement.

I have pretty well given up on finding apolitical philosophy that I can stand on guard for but nothing that Daniel has said is out of synch with my own thoughts and my own leanings. Maybe there is hope after all.

P.S. Thanks for posting the little photo at the end. I already knew that Daniel was a brilliant thinker and a fantastic writer but I had no idea that he was also "hot". ;)