On the Importance of a Program in the Libertarian Political Organization.
by Organización Socialista Libertaria (Argentina)
We that believe in the construction of a libertarian political organization, of an anarchism that as a revolutionary project have real impact in the class struggle, see the need of adopting a clear program of action that is the fruit of collective discussion and express our principles and revolutionary objectives and that determine the tasks to be realized in each step taken. The importance of anarchists having such a program is expressed by Bakunin when he stated that “one should never renounce the clear established revolutionary program, not in what concerns to its form, not in what concerns its substance”(1). In our understanding, its fundamental importance comes from the fact that the said program expresses the ideological, theoretical and practical unity of the revolutionary organization.
Just like our militant action adjusts itself to the collectively discussed and agreed upon program, there are groups, organizations and collectives that reject both in theory and in practice the necessity of a program. There are many reasons for that attitude. On one side, the belief that the creation of a program would nullify the freedom of action of the militants; on the other side, the exacerbated search for the needed unity of anarchists to the point in which unity is preferred at any cost, in the fear of risking positions, ideas and proposals sometimes irreconcilable. The result of these types of union are libertarian collectives without much more in common than considering themselves anarchists. About this, Malatesta stated that: “in every case an organization lives as long as the reasons of union are superior to the ones of separation; if that’s not the case it dissolves and it leaves behind more homogeneous groupings”. Later he adds that “we certainly would feel happy if we could all be in agreement and unite all forces of anarchism in one movement. (…) It is better that we are disunited than badly united”.(2)
In accordance with those words we say that the reasons for union must be formed into a program, or else “the only cooperation that could happen would be based in sentimental desires, vague and confused, and there would be no real unity of perspectives. There would be then only a marching under the same banner, with ideas that are not only different but even in opposition to one another.” (3) We say that because we understand the existence of a program as the result of the profound discussion of all that makes the revolutionary objectives, ideas and practices, leaving behind the “idea of creating a program of patches, by the collection of small points of communality” that “think that all points of view are correct”. “It is in this sense that the program is not the collection of secondary aspects that bring together (or often, that do not divide) the people that think similarly, but it is the analysis and proposals that are only adopted by those that believe in it and decided to spread this work and make it a reality”.(4)
It must be clear that the correct program, the one that is able to insert itself successfully into the revolutionary process, the program that the oppressed make their own, cannot and should not be the creation of a group of “intellectuals” that want to spread and impose their ideas and whims at the world. The program must come from a rigorous analysis of society and the correlation of the forces that are part of it, it must have as foundation the experience of the struggle of the oppressed and their aspirations, and from those elements it must set the goals and the tasks to be followed by the revolutionary organization in order to succeed not only in the final objective but also in the immediate ones.
We said earlier that the program should express clearly the ideological principles and revolutionary objectives of the organization. In the same way there should be set those objectives that should be won in the short term in a specific step of the struggle: the immediate goals. There should be understood that just like the ideological principles are inalterable and the revolutionary preposition is irrenunciable, the short-term goals of the organization will change according to the changes that come its way, be it that the goals were fulfilled, be that circumstance requires new goals to be set.
The militant action around the program of the organization implies “not just deal with things when they happen, neither deal with each situation isolated from the other nor lose enthusiasm because the advance is not immediately visible. It is about setting goals and move towards them. It is about choosing actions and establishing priorities based in these objectives. This implies, of course, that there are activities that we will not do, actions in which we shall not be. They might be important or even spectacular, however, they do not count if they do not fit with the purposes of the step of our program. In other cases, in activities that are in harmony with our goals, we will be in the absolute minority or with great complications. To choose what is more pleasing or with less complications is not a correct policy.”(5)
Spontaneity – that includes no planning, that is a far cry from acting according to an analysis of the situation but is acting at whim without taking in consideration the utility of an act, that makes of certain actions an end on themselves and do not see them as means to reach certain goal, that only acts forced by a situation created by the popular masses and ceases to act when the said activity decreases – cannot have a place if the organization base its activities in a program; nor there is a place for individualism, “which resists any discipline between militants, that refuses to ‘define itself’, or to ‘fit itself’, (…) direct descendant of bourgeois liberalism, it only reacts to strong stimulus, joins the struggle only in its heightened moments, denying to work continuously, specially in moments of relative rest between the struggles” (6).
We know that anarchists will participate of a revolutionary process in which we will not be the only organized force; that there are and there will be later in the future, other proposals of social transformation which we shall face to give social revolution the desired path. And, in order to insert ourselves successfully, so the revolution is socialist and libertarian, we have to systematically organize ourselves around our proposal expressed in the program so that we can carry on an effective revolutionary militancy and in accordance with the popular needs, that draw from the difficulties and complications of the struggle itself. Because we believe, like Bakunin, that “in politics there is no honest and useful practice without a theory and a objective clearly defined”, we shall build the libertarian political organization armed with our ideological conviction and a open political attitude, non-sectarian, put to the test constantly by the daily actions. This is possible of being obtained through a collective action that is based in the program of the anarchist revolutionary organization.
- Mijail Bakunin, Programa revolucionario y programa liberal, en La Libertad (Selección de François Muñoz), Editorial Proyección, Buenos Aires, 1975.
- Ericco Malatesta, La organización, en Malatesta, Pensamiento y acción revolucionarios (Selección de Vernon Richards), Editorial Proyección, Buenos Aires, 1974.
- George Fontenis, Manifiesto Comunista Libertario, Ediciones Hombre y Sociedad, Chile, 1999.
- Idem nota 3.
- Sobre el concepto de estrategia, XI Congreso de la Federación Anarquista Uruguaya, 1997.
- Organización y método en el trabajo cotidiano, Recortes, elementos para la formación y la discusión, Coordinadora Pro fAu.
- Idem nota 1.
Translated by a member of the Furious Five Revolutionary Collective,
San Jose, CA
The original article appeared in En La Calle, the newspaper
of the OSL from Argentina.