Who is that told you that life is yet to begin? Or are you already
waiting for your pension?
Monday morning - get up, go out, call in sick, can't do anything
else, don't want to do anything else, just keep going. Get up again,
go out, school, work, get back, knackered, cook, wash. Time or
money, stomach-ulcer-skin-inflammation, just keep going. Friday,
disco, cinema, friends, Sunday family walks. It is enough! Let not (!)
just grin and bare it!
We spend out time in the smoke filled workshops and humanised factory
halls, in be-palmed offices and steak-herb reeking kitchens. We
sweat scrap-metal back together and magic the sick well again. For
our children there is only the new-deal-work-fare-training-schemes,
where they solder platinum for washing machines and
We get up every morning. We do it!
Even if we have partied the whole night through. Even with the
squeezed disc in the back, relationship stress in the head and
love-sick in the heart, we just keep going. They have prepared us
for this. This is real life. No one ever promised us anything else.
What the fuck is wrong with us? Whose madness is this? Who forces
us? The society? The state? The media? The patriarchal nuclear
family? The temptation of being able to have a part of the supposed
riches? Mama? The weapons? The capitalists?
Is there not something else other that
waiting-within-the-machine-rhythm-for-the-pause with the boredom of
Coronation Street-romanticism, the
now-I-discover-myself-workshop and thrill-addiction-parties.
We need the challenge, the adventure, the yearning, the struggle, the
will to change all that. We are searching for the subversion, the
rebellion, the possibility of revolt. And we search for it in this
everyday life, in the offices, the factory halls, the hospitals, in
We need the movement that does not hesitate, that lets our collective
power be visible!
We wrote and discussed drafts of this paper for almost a year and a
half. It was planned as a for our friends, work mates and interested
people, with whom we could see a common starting point for
It seemed quite difficult to bring
together our fundamental critique on the existing relations with our
longing to have practical action and to write that all down. So we
came to the point where some discussions in our group could not go
further. The language that we wanted; precise, clear and
analytically sharp seemed to be missing. And so it went on and on...
What you now have in your hands is a discussion paper. This paper
was a process, it reflected the actual stage of our group
discussions. In it we refer to revolutionary currents of Marxism,
Workerism, a revolutionary critique of feminism and discussions with
The first part is about the basis of the exploitative society: work
and the division of labour.
In the second part we describe how the
relations of capital, gender and the state originate from the
specific practical relationships of people to each other and from
their position in the capitalist production process.
In the third
part we bring that together with our power to change things: class
struggle. In the fourth part we try to make an approximation of the
current social changes, the conditions for a revolutionary
development: crisis, proletarianisaton, flexibilisation.
fifth and final part we sketch out our notions for revolution and
communism and our tasks in the revolutionary struggle.
It is not a natural situation, that we live in an exploitative,
unjust society, with hierarchies and divisions between men and women,
nationals and foreigners, rich and poor, with exploitation and
oppression. This situation is created! It is not based on natural
power-craziness and egoism of people. It is also only indirectly to
do with bourgeois ideology, tradition, manipulative mass media or the
super control of the system.
The situation is based on the concrete practice of six billion
people: work. Work is not simply comparable with concrete activities
like pudding making, suspension bridge building or beats sampling.
We can do all these things with out working. It doesn't matter if it
is paid or not, these activities become work if we cannot determine
how, for how long, what for and with whom we do them.
Work is; having to slave for the banal things of life, because,
although the technical means of doing our work are possible, their
development promises no profits.
Work is; not deciding collectively and thereby being productive, but
slaving away in our own households where we cook-clean-comfort or
inside the walls of factories and offices.
Work is; to be restricted to defined activities: Brick laying,
dispensing soul comfort, day-in day-out washing other people's
Work is; division of labour. We are not allowed to do everything,
live out the variety of activities - acting in theatres, attic
building, philosophy etc. - that the constitutes the whole of
Through the division of work, it seems that society consists of lots
of single producers slaving away independently of each other in
different companies, departments, households, schools and potato
plantations. Everyone seems to be responsible for their own fate
and to be independent from others. In order to live in capitalism we
are dependant on the work of the majority of the workers of this
planet: from miners in South Africa, HGV drivers in Spain, car
manufacturers in Korea, textile workers in China, programmers in
India to farmers in France.
All together, the way that we produce this society is the basis of
the divisions between people and creates the total splintering of our
lives that makes us so sick: The national borders that fence us in,
the prisons of genders, the roles of citizen, workers or consumer,
the separation of young and old, trainee and qualified, the stress of
free time and everyday work... The division of labour produces these
divisions between us and thereby creates the basis for exploitation
and oppression. Whoever can determine the work and work products of
other, whoever can use for themselves the dependence of people on the
work of others, has social power.
2 Capital, Gender, the State
In the following chapter we will describe how a fixed specific
practice of people creates a relationship that then governs them.
How relations or connections to one another, to the means of
production and the work products face them as something that controls
We concentrate here on capital, state and gender, which are not,
however, structures that stand side by side that can be fought
against singly. If we talk about Capitalism, we mean the entire
relationship. If we talk about class struggle, we mean the struggle
that directs itself against that relationship.
Capital, Exploitation and Crisis
We produce this world together, be we do not decide in what way we do
it. We don't have contact to the people who make our clothes, whose
CNC machines we build etc. The connections come about mostly through
the capitalist forms of the market, money, companies etc. Through
this, these forms achieve a seemingly independent existence, that
defines our days: "Money rules the world", "the state does this, VW
does that". Through our separated co-operation our products seem to
take on a power over us: we turn into dependants of machine-time or
victims of inflation...
Capital describes the relationship within which we co-operate in a
world-wide division of labour.
We seem dependant on capital,
because it brings together our divided work under it's command. That
is the basis of capitalist power, the basis therefor, of a small
class holding the means of production in their hands, being able to
force us to work and exploit us.
We don't stand up for eight hours in stuffy factories and punch out
small parts for Smarts or Playstations because we think that society
has a need for this crap. We go into the factories or offices and
sell our labour power, because we don't have any other way of
sustaining ourselves. We need the wage because we don't posses
anything other than our labour power. We have no riches, no means of
production and, through the capitalist organisation of work, no
possibilities of coming together with the world wide producers
independently of capital. We have to graft away in isolated
households, because otherwise other people wouldn't be able to work
or would have to spend so much on snack-fodder, laundrettes and
touchy-feely workshops, that the money would not be enough to live
However, not only are we robbed of our means of production, but we
don't end up getting the products that we produce every day. We
don't determine what we produce and the ways and means that we do it.
The means of production and means of subsistence that we produce
stay in the hands of the owners of the means of production. By this
separation of us from our products they are thus always able to force
us to work for them.
Through this process, we daily (re)produce the
pre-condition of having to work, the basis of our exploitation.
The bosses want to present the theft of the products of our work as
'free and fair exchange' - wages for work. The exploitation is
hidden behind the wage, being forced to work hidden behind the 'free
exchange'. The capitalists only gives us the wages, because
otherwise we would starve and couldn't work for them any more. In a
much shorter time than our working day, we produce the equivalent of
our wages, the equivalent of the things that are necessary for the
subsistence of us and our families. Most of the time in the day we
are working solely for the profit of the small class of capitalists.
This profit, and not our needs, is the determining factor of
However just a small part of the profits go on the luxury hampers of
whichever fat-cat. The capitalists themselves are forced to turn a
large part of the profit back into capital, i.e. to invest in yet
more machines, office blocks and labour power. They don't do this
because they can't stuff their faces full enough, but because
otherwise they would go bankrupt and wouldn't be capitalists any
more. What presents itself as the law of competition for the
individual capitalist, is the law of capitalist accumulation:
Capital has to become more capital through the exploitation of labour
The fact that we stay separated from the means of production and from
the products of our work, has to be enforced over and over again.
This happens through the production process itself that isolates us,
the relentless rhythm of the machine that wears us down, the boss
that stands behind us and controls us. And where the violence of
work is not sufficient, a 'direct' form of violence is used: foremen,
company security guards, shift bosses and department heads drive us
to work harder and threaten rebels with dismissal. The capitalists
try to divide us along the lines of the work divisions using
different working conditions, wage levels etc between foreigners/
nationals, educated / uneducated, men / women. The hierarchy between
the exploited is supposed to make joint struggle against the
exploitation seem impossible.
A social mode of production that does not arise from the need and
collectivity of billions of producers, but has as its only sense and
purpose the increase of capital; that for this purpose reduces the
daily lives of most people to (wage) slaves and thereby produces rage
a-billion-fold; such a mode of production also produces inevitable
crises. These crises are not accidents of capitalism, they are part
of its contradictory organisation of production, its need for
accumulation, for the expansion of exploitation.
Gender roles are a practical relation that both 'genders' produce,
but it is also a relation of violence and dependence, the daily
experience of women. Is someone tries to break out of this
relationship, and doesn't act like a 'real man' on the building site,
will often become isolated, or worse.
If the idyllic little family turns out to be an isolation chamber, if
women refuse to let their little worker be the 'little boss' at home,
concentrate only on him, protect him from the loneliness of
masculinity, she often finds herself confronted with violence. Out
of fear of not being able to have close human relationships without
female assistance, and the fear of being bottom of the heap without
being able to have dominance over the house worker, many men try to
keep women being functional through restrictions and the threat or
practice of violence. In order to get rid of these relationships of
need and violence, we need to get rid of gender itself.
determines which tasks we carry out in the social division of labour.
It does that from fixed 'gender specific' wage work in production up
to practical characteristics and activities for example 'men' having
to, or wanting to, protect. Gender arises as a relation within the
social mode of production of capitalism, in the association and the
acting out of fixed activities, roles and identities. The
development of the forces of production - the expansion of social
co-operation and the development of technical means to lighten
physical work - determines the character of the gender division of
Capitalism found the existing gender division of labour, turned it
into the basis of isolating the form of reproduction of labour power
and thereby used it to bring down the capital expenditure. Giving
birth and the rearing of children was from then on synonymous with
the production and reproduction of labour power. The gender division
of labour and the reduction of women to the reproduction of labour
power makes the divisions between men and women fixed. That did not
appear for the first time with capitalism, but the shift in
production from houses (farming or handicraft) into families in
factories and offices has fundamentally changed the social position
of men and women and created new patriarchal relationships.
and masculine proletariats became separated from each other and women
increasingly become stuck into the isolated - unpaid - housework in
the nuclear family.
Men played a central role, due to wage work and
the associated control over the income, and the fact that places of
production became the centres of social change in capitalism. The
exclusion of women from organising and struggling meant their social
The dependence of women on the income of men, ensured through
marriage and violence, built a framework within which women were
supposed to perform particular work for the capitalist accumulation:
to produce the commodity of labour power; take care of the
reproduction, ideological disciplining and initial training.
Housework is part of the social co-operation, without which the
capitalist machinery won't function. In families and in the
disciplining state institutions girls and boys are introduced to the
skills that needed to be developed for later exploitation in house
and wage work.
Proletarian women as wage workers always play the
role of the industrial reserve army: where they can be exploited for
the capitalist valorisation process they are sent to the assembly
lines - whether in the development zones of South China, the
Maquiladora sweatshops on the US-Mexican border or the electronic
hell-holes in central Europe.
Where struggle and the revolution of
the social modes of production demands dismissals, they are supposed
to just back to the kitchen, e.g. in the ex-DDR (East Germany) and
other former eastern block states.
The gender divisions will always
be used for this, to change the composition of wage workers - to
weaken struggle, to put pressure on wages and to divide the workers.
In wage work the particular capabilities of women are exploited -
communication, emotional sympathy, skilled finger work, due to women
having to learn this during their particular upbringing and
disciplining. And then the wage work is often just the continuation
of their house work: the caring for the sick in hospitals, the work
as child minders or in nurseries, as cleaning women or secretary in
service to their boss.
As a rule, this work is paid worse than equivalent work by men. In
Germany alone millions of women work in insecure working situations
like 320 Euro jobs (under the tax and national insurance level), part
time work etc. All in all the situation for most women is
characterised by insecurity, low wages, poverty and a 16 hour day for
the boss, the husband and the children.
Women are fighting against exploitation at work, refusing to do
housework and children rearing and telling their husbands to fuck
off. The mechanisation of households and the conversion unpaid
housework into paid work (fast food, caring...) was a reaction to this
refusal. For many women paid work is the first chance they get to
overcome the isolation of the family and take part in social life.
On the other hand they only end up in a different form of
The relationship between the genders has changed considerably in the
last few years due to the rebellion of women against their
subordination - the images of typical roles are changing, same gender
love is almost accepted, the new jobs break down the gender divisions
and many women have become self-reliant in their relationships, at
work, in their organisational efforts, refusing to accept everything
and are choosing a single life over nuclear family stress.
Where women and men attack the gender divisions, they have to be
re-enforced again. Women have to be forced into the fulfilment of
their 'duties' with violence, men get drilled in the conscripted army
and other 'men schools'. With child benefits, marriage laws and
personnel management strategies, men and women are further forced
into defined jobs, defined roles and learned behaviours. But at the
same time the division only works, because we reproduce it over and
over again as men and women - amongst ourselves and in relation to
the 'other gender'. Where new identities are created, as gay and
lesbian, as part of the women's or men's movements, there is an
attempt to reintegrate these forms into the capitalist process:
equalities officers, funds for subcultures, gay insurance policies,
The liberation from gender, the struggle against oppression based on
physical characteristics, is part of the class struggle. Only the
class of exploited producers is able to destroy the gender roles.
Not because the 'women' don't have power without the 'workers', but
because gender is a part of the entire social practice.
Almost everything that we need to live, we produce in ways, in which
we face our co-operation and the means of work as capital, as a force
outside of ourselves. But not all the work in capitalism can be
organised along the lines of a 'factory', not all the labour
necessary for the reproduction of labour power can be exploited
within a capitalist relation. Through the capitalist ways and means
of producing this society, we don't only create the production units
of factory, the office and the hospital, but also of the household.
House and wage work are both dependant on one another as existing
parts of the relations of production, within which we (re)produce our
life in the forms of class and gender. From this point, class
struggle is the struggle against work, against social modes of
production, that create the exploitative relations of capital as well
as creating gender.
The state presents itself as a 'neutral political institution' that
exists independently from the 'economic' sphere. This has the
following results: Union people request that the state regulates the
undemocratic businesses; socialists lament that the state is just for
the rich parties and not the 'little people'; anarchists present the
state as all-encompassing power, without which the society would be
free. Whether as a an operational partner or as the main enemy, the
state offers itself as the focal point for our struggle, in order to
integrate and diss-empower it. The state is part of the capitalist
exploitative relations. It is the political and violent form of
enforcing and preserving capitalist exploitation.
Fundamental for the exploitation in capitalism is a mass of labour
power, that can only live by selling its labour power, or, does not
have access to its own means of production. The state makes sure
that people stay divided from their means of production on a daily
basis, through wars and expulsion from the countryside. Development
aid, migration and population politics are used to be able to control
the new proletarians.
The separation from the means of production has to permanently
maintained through threats and the use of violence: soldiers against
autonomous actions by landless people, police against factory
occupations. State protection of private property is protection of
the owners of the capitalist class, protection from the appropriation
of the means of production by the producers and thereby the
preservation of the condition of exploitation.
What is sold to us daily as the 'achievements of the welfare state'
are actually the states means of keeping us all as wage slaves, of
controlling our working lives and getting us ready for exploitation.
Social aid and unemployment benefits keep us being exploitable labour
power, during the times when our wage work can't be valorised. We
get the money, but only if we show willingness to work and give the
state the chance to have insight and intervention into our living
situation. In school we learn the things that are required from a
labour force, particular qualifications, arse licking and obedience.
When working life finishes us off, the hospitals and nut houses make
us able to cope with life again. In conflicts between workers and
capitalists the state appears as a mediator: it offers the workers
state-approved unions or its employment laws for isolated conflicts
and so ensures 'orderly relationships'.
Apart from that it tries
everything to get the conflicts to take place within the working
class: its 'migration and family policies' are always creating new
divisions and hierarchies amongst the exploited, the existence of
individual 'nations' offers the possibility of diverting the workers
struggles down nationalistic tracks.
However, the state is not
merely a 'service' for capital. Its existence is simply materially
tied to profitable exploitation and work: without profit, without the
valorisation of capital there would also be no money for the state.
The struggle with the exploitation changes the form of the state and
how the state tries to maintain the conditions of exploitation.
Whether as military dictatorship, workers and peasants state or a
parliamentary democracy - neither our demands, nor 'politics' changes
the state, but rather our struggle against the capitalist everyday
The state is also not a 'thing' that exists unchanging and
independently from humans. In our everyday material practice we have
to face and deal with the state and capital in the forms of
'politics' and 'economics'. We seem dependant on the state and on
the 'politics', because we are dependant on particular social
activities that the 'state' carries out.
Due to the separation into
isolated 'owners' labour power, small families, in companies, in the
town and country etc, we don't organise these activities together and
don't create unmediated connections between ourselves. In the way
state planning, laws to regulate social conflict etc seem to be
The of social activities in the form of the state has to be
re-enforced daily: the police and teachers have to become accepted as
such, the state has to get its own material apparatus produced etc.
In times of heavier struggle or crisis it becomes apparent that the
state is not necessarily a given. Particular tasks that are not
organised by the state any more, the people have to, or can, carry
out communally again. E.g. in parts of Russia, where due to the
crisis, the state stopped undertaking particular social care duties,
or during the struggles in Albania, that reduced the state to its
role as military power.
3 Class Struggle
This is our starting point: out of specific practical relations of
people between themselves and to the production conditions, capital,
the state and gender arises as oppressive relations. Now to the
deciding question: how can we destroy these relations and create a
different way to live together? We look for the possibilities of
change, for liberation from the power and find it in everyday
Our Power to Make Changes
The isolation within the capitalist society gives us the daily
experiences of facing powerlessness in the relationships: we stand
alone in front of the boss and colleagues looking either like big
girls blouses or as macho: the police catch our foreign girlfriend
in a raid and deport her; our dole money gets cut and cut because the
state supposedly has no more money; the bosses close down the
companies, because they can allegedly get more work for less wages
somewhere else etc.
The possibility of liberation from this powerlessness is in our daily
social practice. It is the world-wide co-operation of work, that
create capital, the state, the gender relations every day a-new. In
struggles we can break out of those relations and get to know that we
are not isolated individuals, but that, together with all the
exploited in the world, we form cohesion of divided labour. This can
turn into the material power of a movement, within which we liberate
ourselves from these relations:
We can destroy capital, because money will become old paper and
machines become scrap metal, if we don't use them or they are not
used. The power of capital over living labour has an end, if the
struggle overcomes the apparent divisions of social production in
house holds, companies, nations etc.
We can seize and destroy the state, because it does not produce its
own apparatus, but rather is dependant on capitalist exploitation,
from 'orderly' relations in its schools, universities, prisons and
offices. The state would disintegrate, if the movement of the
exploited jumped over the school walls and liberated knowledge; if we
take our conflicts out of the courts and rule ourselves; if take a
break from the job centre waiting rooms because we are no longer a
permanently available labour force; if we tear down the border
fences, because without exploitation there would also be no need for
'national labour market' or 'locations'.
We can destroy gender, because it is a practical social relation that
changes through class confrontation and in capitalist development.
Within the struggle we can develop desires that no longer have to be
in the form of gender divisions. In the struggle we can break out of
our isolation and together hit back at the sexist attacks. In
revolutionary struggle we can destroy the material basis of gender
division, the isolation of households, the different forms of house
and wage work, the private ownership of knowledge about our own
That is the struggle against work. The struggle against a social
activity that is the basis for exploitation and oppression. It is
the revolutionary critique and the power to make changes. This
critique is not born on a desk or in a lefty seminar, but where we
come together every day, where through our work, we create the power
of capital over the producers. in dingy backyard workshops, in
kitchens and canteens, at the assembly line and street corners,
behind fast-food counters, in hi-tech offices, university lecture
halls and in coffee plantations, the confrontations take place that
embody the possibility of a movement that can change everything. The
rage expresses itself in conflicts large or small, in the refusal to
put up with the drudgery and disciplining. Calling in sick, working
slowly, taking longer breaks, nicking stuff and annoying the 'little
boss' are forms of the daily little wars by individual workers.
These conflicts are permanent. There is no consensus over the
exploitation. It stays a part of the capitalist development, or
could be diffused in biannual balloted union-lead half-day
work-to-rule actions, if the isolation of the conflicts does not
break out into common struggle.
Revolutionary situations arise, if the exploited turn their daily
divided co-operation around, and into organising their struggle: if
the office workers don't work away to the rhythm of some other
workers PC-inputs, but rather use the intranet to co-ordinate the
strike; if the assembly line workers don't have to try to catch up
with the assembler before her, but rather use the co-operation to
bring the whole assembly to a stand still; if the struggle in the
schools ruins the a whole coming generation of workers; if joint
proletarian rent strikes or mass-shoplifting was organised in the
play-groups and parent and toddler groups.
The struggle develops a material power, because it suspends the
capitalist accumulation and undermines the state.
The self-organisation of the struggle by the strugglers is only
possible in those conflicts that result from the daily structures of
In these conflicts the relationships and needs change. In this way
we get to know, the means and possibilities are there to create
an-other non-capitalist community. In these struggles there is the
chance to 'out' as paper tigers, the supposed supremacy of capital,
the seeming independence of the state and naturalness of gender
relations. Because the practical relations to each other and to the
means of production change and because in struggle they can be
developed and created without capitalist mediation. This real
movement within capitalist exploitation we call
If we talk about class, we are coming from the view that, the work of
people creates the private property of the means of production - and
thereby the basis of themselves as property-less and exploited
proletariat. The class is not a club that people belong to or not.
It is also not a category, in which people can be ordered in
'objective attributes'. Class originates as a movement, if the
exploited use their productive relations against the exploitation.
This process is class.
The material conditions of production and the form of how the class
fight against these conditions, are directly interrelated and always
changes through the confrontations. Every collective activity, every
struggle impels the capitalists and their 'little bosses' to appoint
or dismiss new people (with different 'qualifications'), to introduce
new technology, different 'teaching methods', wage systems or work
organisation, to invite or deport immigrants. These changes within
capitalist production also change the ways we can fight and gives a
new face to the class struggle. Self employed long distance lorry
drivers will find other ways to struggle than call-centre workers or
care workers. New immigrants bring different experiences to the
struggle from workers who have worked for the same company for years.
The revolt will hit the capitalist accumulation more directly in a
Maquiladoras factory tied in the world wide production chain as in a
backyard workshop in Haywards Heath that is only locally economically
Revolutionary initiative has to be based on these concrete material
conditions and the already existing organisational endeavours of the
class, if we intervene in struggle. The usual organisational
suggestions, valid for all sectors, points in time and situations of
struggle, like those made by parties, workers councils or syndicalist
unions can only hinder the self-movement of the class.
Class struggle is in very few cases a 'attack on capitalism', but
rather struggle against concrete exploitative situations. It does
not require the unity of the exploited, but rather in itself, tackles
the hierarchy between the workers. The divisions and splits within
the proletariat is re-created daily through the ways and means of
capitalist production. It often comes to confrontation between
workers, if the varying positions of workers in the production
process is attacked along with the attack on the organisation of
work. The possibility of breaking out of the divisions, the chance
of real change can only be found in these struggles.
In confrontations most unions use the slogan "unity of all the
exploited" in order to get the conflict under control or to stifle
it: "We can only fight, if everybody joins in, but not everyone is
joining in... There are so many differences between the workers, so we
need a strong union organisation here... You can't beat up the
headmaster, he is also just a wage dependant..." Those parts of the
proletariat who are fundamentally attacking the work and the
resulting hierarchies and divisions are at the forefront of driving
the process forward.
We have to support even those struggles that are against another part
of the proletariat: The struggle of school kids, if it has to be
enforced against the orderly parents and teachers; the revolt of
black factory workers, if their foreman stands against them; the
strike of skilled workers, if they can't stop unskilled workers from
strike breaking; the self-organised women in the factory, if they
would be sabotaged by the male union.
Within these daily confrontations we look for the tendencies that do
not let themselves be absorbed by capitalist development, but that
burst open and go beyond it. These tendencies can seldom be clearly
recognised by their 'external form' of struggle: the stated demands,
the 'official' leaders, the questions of whether a conflict is
peaceful or violent, initially says very little about the
'revolutionary content' of the struggle. The strugglers may
experience less collective power and liberation in a union
institutionalised general strike for 15 percent more wages, than in a
wildcat strike for 2 percent.
Whether revolutionary tendencies of self liberation from the existing
relations of production/learning/living arise in the struggles
depends upon whether the strugglers
* find forms of self organisation, that bring forth new collective
relationships, and within the struggle undermine the hierarchical
divisions of labour.
* take possession of the means of production in such a way that they
can no longer be used as a means of enforcing work, but rather become
means of abolishing work.
* break out of the divisions of everyday work such as professional
and language groups, department, housing estates and company walls
* hit capital and the state through the struggle and so can be an
example of workers power for other proletariats.
The chance of overthrowing capitalism can not be explained through
isolated struggles or movements. Historical changes of the ways that
we produce this society, i.e. how we are exploited in capitalism,
does not result automatically, or through a plan of the exploited
class, but through the class struggle and the contradictions of
capital. The development of capital has limits: the struggle of the
class does not only change the social mode of production, through
that it also creates the conditions for a world wide revolution. We
have to reveal these conditions in the current social changes make
them the starting point of struggle. Here is a rough example:
Asia, until 1996 the promised land of capital, that dreamed of
everlasting boom on the backs of a compliant proletariat, has had
it's bubble burst in the last few years. In Indonesia the rage of
the proletariat broke out in flames. In Russia, where the new
businessmen and old 'soviet' company chairmen are making big money,
while many workers are not getting any wage at all, and so are
continually going on strike, bankruptcy threatens. In the 80s the
IMF and the World Bank let Central and Latin America off their debt,
in order to improve the exploitation conditions. Today millions of
dollars have to be pumped into the region, just to make sure the
currency does not totally crash.
The basis of this crisis does not lie, as defenders of capitalism
often maintain, in adventure capital speculation, faulty management
or corrupt governments. These explanations are only there to raise
the hope that the crisis can be overcome through a 'better policy'.
The causes of crisis is not reformable. It is caused by the
reactions of the workers against the exploitation and the
consequential sharpening of the contradictions of capitalist
relations of production.
The crisis of capital is the crisis of valorisation: that for the
exploitation of the workers, the invested capital does not bring
enough profit, that is needed for the exploitation process.
Strikes, working slowly, refusing new work models and enforcement of
better living standards, without consideration for the internal
deficit or company benchmarks, leads to sinking profits.
If capital can not break these workers (re)actions and impose
increased exploitation, it increasingly goes looking for other
regions with better valorisation conditions - which is increasingly
difficult, as there almost no regions left today where the people
don't know what capitalism means. Or else the ruling class try to
buy time needed for the enforcement of new exploitation conditions,
but taking out more credit, or with financial speculation.
This does not succeed for them - when the profit from the increased
production doesn't cover the credit - it ends in a crash, like we
have seem recently in Asia, Russia and Latin America. That shows
that today's 'Globalisation' is not a sign of the power of capital,
but primarily that it globalises its crisis.
Struggles and Confrontations
Uprisings in the last few years like the Chiapas-Mexico after 1994
and in Indonesia 1998, daily strikes in the (newly-) industrialised
Asian states like China, South Korea etc and protest movements in the
boom countries of Latin America: that are struggles by workers in the
new development centres, whose increasing demands come up against the
results of the worldwide capitalist exploitation.
The question is
whether these class movements widen out and radicalise or whether
they let themselves, due to the crisis, be bound up into a new
development-focused dictatorship. After the exploitation model of the
east block toppled, we find ourselves facing a fairly open situation.
The strikes of the miners in Russia and Romania and the uprising in
Albania in 1997 are just the strongest examples of confrontation by
workers, who don't want to let themselves be a cheep labour force for
a new elite or western investors.
The strikes in UPS and General Motors in the USA and of the Spanish
and French transport workers are examples of more openly led class
confrontation in the capitalist metropolises. Apart from that, the
situation seems to be one of a blockade: there are almost no
struggles against the increasing stress of work, but also that
capitalism, is not able to implement any new profitable exploitation
regimes by its attacks.
There can't really be any talk of a global struggle. Many struggles
start from a position of weakness: company closures, defending
against deteriorations etc.. Many confrontations take on nationalist
or of other forms of violence within the working class.
The New Crisis Regime
The ruling class tries to use sharper state measures against the
proletariat to solve the situation of crisis and blockade. In the
European Metropolises these attacks are mediated by the 'socialist'
and social democrat governments. These governments try to solve the
blockade in the direction of 'more work - less money' by increased
pressure on both working and unemployed proletariat. By doing this
the 'labour parties' play on their having good relations with the
union apparatus and pull together for the implementation of 'more
The instrument of the state against the class struggle has
also been modernised on a worldwide level: In the face of the
crisis, the IMF has to make even clearer to the credit dependant
governments, that they can only get more credit, if they enforce
intensified exploitation against the local workers. In the EU,
member states no longer have the possibility, with the new unified
currency, the Euro, to avoid the struggles in their lands by currency
manipulation. So the ruling class is having to challenge the
struggles to a greater extent than before, and seize hold of the
workers and their work conditions in order to lower the cost of
wages, extend the work time etc. The immigration conditions for
workers from non-EU countries are further intensified. Workers are
supposed to immigrate as cheep labour in the wished for amounts, but
otherwise should be available for exploitation in the various regions
of investment from the Ukraine to Morocco.
Besides some 'welfare state measures', the ruling class have
recently had only the most brutal of all state deeds left, to solve
the class confrontation. The was in Yugoslavia in 1999 shows a new
quality of the crisis regimes: The left governments sold the bombing
as a humanitarian action and, NATO wanted to demonstrate, with this
ideological motivation, their ability to reduce every spot on this
earth to rubble.
Above all the war had an enormous effect on the class situation in
* The bombs on the Serbian big industrial plants managed to push
through what the Serbian regime had not managed after years of
attacks: The fastest mass redundancies since the Treuhand. The
600,000 workers whose firms were flattened by the bombing, will
probably never now come together again in their old work groups, in
which they fought for such a long time against wage reductions and
redundancies. The war created a dispersed labour force, the basis
for the intensification of exploitation, as we can see, for example,
from the new work from VW or the Italian outsourced textile fleapits
* The struggle of students and workers against the repression and
'welfare state politics' of the Serbian state, has for the time,
being, become side-tracked down democratic-nationalistic lines, as a
result of the war.
* In Kosovo millions became separated from their land and
occupations and had to flee. Many of them, whether 'Albanian' or
'Serbian' have to work somewhere else, often as low paid competitors
to the indigenous workers.
* The new 'ethnic' borders and the selective EU policies of
'rebuilding' the profitable regions like Croatia, Slovenia, and now
maybe Montenegro separate and favour certain regions, thereby
creating the basis for new nationalistic violence within the working
* The Balkans are under military occupation. In this region,
characterised by the mobility of the workers, is now controlled by
NATO troops and UN organisations, who are the ones who now do the
moving around. When the Albanian population armed themselves in 1997
and brought vast areas of land out of state control, the
'Blue-helmets' didn't venture into the country. Today Albania is a
The Yugoslavian war was a sign for the proletariat world wide: if we
can't solve the crisis through rationalisation measures and work
discipline, we still have a few bombing arguments for you. The
exploited class have to get into the offensive in the coming
struggle, otherwise the ruling class, in their desperate search for a
way out of the crisis, will use the conflicts such as between North
and South Korea, China and Taiwan, India and Pakistan etc at a reason
for a war against the workers.
In recent years, Capital had got stronger in the 'three continents'
(Africa, Asia and Latin America) and has really gone after Asia and
Latin America, because it has the hopes of realising higher profits
there. The construction of industry is only possible because there -
especially in Asia - millions of people leave the country for the
city, leave their piece of land and have to sell their labour force
to the factory boss or corporation boss. They have had enough of the
traditional land based forms of exploitation and expect betterment
for themselves from the wage work and live in the city - information,
consumer goods, chances of more mobility...
This proletarianisation means that the experiences of workers in
Kuala Lumpur, Kapstadt, Gaza, Sao Paulo, Lyon and Gelsenkirchen
increasingly run in parallel: factory work, computer entry, measures
to combat rebellions, democratic rule - we have to put up with
similar conditions. Moreover, millions of workers migrate in the oil
regions, the industrial zones, in the construction sites and in the
households of this earth, fleeing from the situation in there regions
of decline and/or on the search for a better life. They are part of
the global co-operation and offer us the possibility of exchanging
experiences and learning from the struggles in other regions of the
In Asia and Latin America the increase of paid work for women has
provide many women with their own income. Moreover the refusal of
women to refuse to graft away as unpaid and isolated housewives,
drives forward the socialisation of housework. It is doubtful as to
whether the work at a McJob is actually more pleasant than the home
and hearth, however it takes them out of the isolation of the house
or the farm plot and creates better conditions to fight together
against exploitation and sexist laws. The crisis of housework
undermines the old gender division of labour, for without female
house work, you're gonna get pretty crap miners. The gender
relations are in flux, because the new jobs do not prop up and
reproduce the fixed roles and rigid divisions that have existed up to
now. In many of the new jobs the old gender divisions tend to be
superseded and that changes the gender relations entirely. Similar
experiences simplify - together with the new technological
possibilities of worldwide communication - the exchange and
co-ordination of struggle.
And: The defence of individual handicrafts or small pieces of land in
view of the proletarianisation tendency often means nothing more than
then defence of poverty and hardship. Proletarianistaion means, more
and more being dependant on the work of millions of others, in order
to be able to set the means of production going. Through the
increased introduction of machines, work is often no longer
individual skill or ability.
Through this we see other producers less and less as a mere
'function', who stands in contrast to ourselves by being able shoe
our horse, or find the right herbs against our illnesses (so
represent that function that we need), but rather simply a person,
with similar skilled or unskilled abilities, like ourselves.
That is not only the prerequisite for increased capitalist
exploitation and competition, but also for a global revolution, not
to liberate the work, but to destroy it - for a class free society of
After the world wide factory struggles of the 60s and 70s the
relations in production have changed enormously. In order to break
up of the core of militant workers in the industrial countries and
intensify the exploitation, new computer based technologies and new
forms of work organisation (e.g. group work) were introduced in the
factories. Whole sectors e.g. in administration, maintenance and
cleaning have been outsourced by large companies. Thought the
attacks on the power of the workers, the companies can lower the
wages, i.e. the labour costs. From the same reason subcontractors
are given whole branches of production and so the number of workers
in factories is driven down. Using temporary agency workers,
temporary contracts etc new hierarchies of wages and contract terms
are introduced, to further divide the workers. That has been made
possible, because at the same time more people were trying to escape
from the 40-hour-normal-working-week. From then on they keep
themselves above water by working hear and there, or by using the
state benefits and cash in hand work.
One the one hand this means that we have much more varying
experiences today. Lots of workers have worked in a few different
sectors and can be 'flexible' in how they organised their work and
entertainment. They have worked in other countries, learned
languages, built up contacts and got to know different forms of
struggles. Many have tried out the beginnings of self organisation
far away from the family, state benefits and unions. This could be
the basis for a new struggle, that is characterised by mobility,
stores of experiences for different exploitation situations and
little respect for a career for life.
On the other side we need to put up with the insecurity, the
so-called precarious work conditions - part time, temp-agency, fixed
term contracts... many of us are forced to always hunt around for
whatever jobs, that further shrink our control over our own lives.
And, the pressure to work was increased: by wage cuts, by raising
social contributions such as health insurance etc. that always leads
to more "working poor", and by direct pressure from the Benefits
Agency or the Job Centre, who use the threat of cutting, or totally
stopping, benefits if you don't take a shit job or 'training scheme'.
Here in Germany the red-green government has seriously taken on the
reconstructing the welfare state: Compulsory training schemes for
young people are already running, other plans are still in the wings:
further cuts to benefits and other outcomes through the introduction
of a guaranteed income, the tying of unemployment money to neediness
- so no longer as insurance, where you supposedly get back the cash
you have paid in at some point, the introduction of forced labour for
those who refuse work etc.. All these developments have contributed
to a weakening of workers struggles in the core industrial sectors in
the last few years.
The outsourcing has also lead to increased significance of the
communication and transport sectors. Especially through the
Just-in-time production, where the suppliers have to supply their
components in an exact time to the assembly line, the production
chain has become extremely susceptible to malfunctioning. The
strikes of HGV drivers in France and Spain, the car suppliers Johnson
Controls and the parcel deliverers UPS in the USA very quickly
brought the lines in the factories to a stand still, because the
parts were missing. The new production relations has made capitalism
In the last two years is has become clear in all corners and ends of
the world: capitalism has not triumphed, it is in crisis.
The current crisis shows that capitalism is not a superior social
form, that the free market is a liberal fantasy and that the
political class only seem be have the possibility to be able to
predict and determine social developments.
Times of crisis are times of radical social change, of changes within
a exploitative society. In these times the searching and questioning
after a different social perspective becomes louder from all sides,
struggles and confrontations take place with a new intensity.
Therein lies the possibility of the class finding a common
,liberating answer within the struggle.
If the revolutionary perspective fails, the crisis will be the
beginning of a new exploitation regime. The ruling class has to
enforce an increased expansion of capital by squeezing the workers,
until the pips squeak. Our role is to emphasis, in the discussion
within the coming class confrontations, that capitalism and crisis
are inseparably connected to one another, that the effects of the
ever intensifying crisis cannot be overcome through 'scrimping and
saving', but through the destruction of this absurd system.
Communism and Revolution
Some of the world wide tendencies described give hope to these
changing times and are signs that the exploited class can, through
their struggles, change the world and create a different one. The
class struggle does not only intensify the capitalist contradictions,
it also changes the conditions under which we produce our lives: we
work more and more closely together; we are less and less directly
dependant on ploughing our fields or selling our products; productive
technologies are no longer concentrated in the metropolis; ever more
wealth is created (disregarding which sort), while ever less labour
time is necessary for the production of particular goods, production
is ever more dependant on common knowledge, the communication and
co-operation of millions of workers worldwide.
The coming movement of the working class will be situated within
these conditions. It will decide whether in the future, the
increasing social productivity will be directed against us in the
form of capitalist machinery. Or whether we use our productive
collectivity as weapons in the struggles and as the basis of
communism, a society without exploitation and drudgery.
Communism is neither some far-off utopia or a planned out society,
but is part of the struggle, in which the existing mode of production
is changed, new relations and new needs arise and the means are
appropriated for the fulfilment of those needs. The process will get
violent if those who profit from the existing relations, fight back
against those who have had enough. The revolution won't be some
power coup, no taking over the power of the state.
organ of state violence will be destroyed, but the deciding question
of the struggle is whether the producers appropriate in this process
the conditions of production in a way, that makes the survival of a
state or capitalist control un-necessary and impossible. Whether
they lead the struggles through self-organisation and thereby create
the basis for a society in which our needs are placed in the centre
and decide for ourselves how we meet those needs.
revolutionary process the basis of the divisions of labour, company,
gender and 'international', must be demolished and the knowledge of
the production and the means to make it automatic must be socialised.
Only then can the struggles create being together without mediation
through institutions, identities, money and machinery to become in
practice a society of free individuals.
... or the Wretchedness of Reformism?
When the crisis and confrontation comes to a head and the search for
a revolutionary movement becomes ever more pressing, the reformists
from the left try everything to diffuse the situation. Many fighters
against neo-liberalism want to sell us the old welfare state as a
benevolent papa and they want to take action against the evil world
market together with the state and the unions. In the fight against
fascism, the violence of the state is happily overlooked, the schools
or universities are accepted, so long as there are not fascists
running around there.
Instead of making an end to the misery of work, much of the left
calls for fair distribution of work or even demand more of it.
Guaranteed income and other 'give-us-crumbs' demands turn us into
solitary victims, who are supposed to beg the nation state for higher
benefits or whatever other 'rights'.
The red-green government builds on the fact that the left controlled
protests give them fitting ideas for their crisis management:
guaranteed income, kombilohn etc. protects the workers in times of
short McJobs, the 'work for all' wailing creates the atmosphere for
various work programmes. The youth should look for their future
perspectives in the sweat shops, the unemployed be thankful for their
new low-wage-daily-life... The 'Autonome' in times of crisis unpack an
Leninism that already smells of decay: the victims of the social
'exclusion' should unite behind easily understandable demands and
little by little become accustomed to a supposed revolutionary
consciousness. Along the lines of the slogan 'follow us, we know the
way to fight'.
6 Revolutionary struggle - organisation of the revolutionaries
Clearly - the movement, the offensive struggles are missing in our
region. So we have to ask all the more, how can we bring forward
revolution? If the revolutionary movement is weak, it is not because
there is no political organization, strong union or communist party.
The origins of the weakness lie in the actual conditions within the
sphere of exploitation. We have to ask why the exploited do not find
a militant, liberating expression of their productive power in this
current situation. We have to find those situations where this
defensive position can be broken up. Therefore, we need revolutionary
Revolutionary organizing has to support the self-liberation of the
exploited. It cannot take the form of mass organizations which go
out on demonstrations pretending to represent the demands of workers,
students, etc. There cannot be a "revolutionary policy" within union
and political frameworks because it is not the "issues" or
"leadership" of unions or political organizations that makes them
reformist. The whole character of these representing bodies makes
them reformist from the start. The attempt to overcome the divisions
within capitalist production through "grassroots organizing of other
workers" in "all-encompassing" structures (neighborhood-centers,
rank-and-file-groups, etc.) or under generalised demands, will also,
sooner or later, end up in the politics of representation. The
organizing of the class can only be the result of the struggles
within the capitalist organization of work, in firms, universities
and schools. Only in these attacks on the actual divisions the
organizing can be all-encompassing. The organizing of the class
struggle only takes place through and within the actual collective
struggles. All attempts to maintain it beyond that, end up as
Revolutionary organising is not "organising of other workers" but of
revolutionaries who know their way in the sphere of exploitation and
together look for tendencies of a revolutionary movement. Their
relation to other exploited workers is neither "tactical" - as between
functionaries and a revolutionary subject - nor "enlightening". We
know that we can only liberate ourselves in those struggles where the
exploited destroy everyday-capitalism and capitalist relations
between people. We cannot instigate struggles but we can summarize
the most advanced discussions, the weak points of capitalist control
and the critique the workers. And we can generalise these experiences
and circulate them within the sphere of exploitation. The relation
between revolutionaries and workers is that of a collective process:
where is the possibility of workers' power and self- liberation in
the daily experience of exploitation?
What we have to do
Firstly, we need to take the actual conditions of class struggle, the
current changes in the world as the starting point.
* Where does a changing organization of the exploitation, of the
organization of work, technology, etc. lead to the weakening of
workers' power and where can we see weak points in the capitalist
* Which effects do these changes have on the qualification, the
migration and mobility of workers and the labour-market? What is the
role of the state in this context?
* What do the workers, students, etc. do about this situation, what
do they discuss? Where do forms of organizing and chances already
exist that they can use in the struggle?
This means to analyse the restructuring of capital and the new
composition of the working class. In our region (Ruhrgebiet, Germany)
we need to look at what happened to the leftovers of the heavy- and
metal-industry and which new sectors and production chains have
We need to find out, whether the skilled worker in the coal-
and steel-industry or the home- and part time-worker will loose their
central position and whether a new typical worker, highly mobile,
working in the electronics sweatshops, outside-suppliers and "service
companies" will develop. This investigation is necessary in order to
understand the material basis for the upcoming class struggles.
Secondly, in actual struggles there is neither need for cheerleading
nor for moralizing and patronizing but for information on
* Where could a struggle have the most material power, where could it
interrupt the capitalist production and co-operation most
* What kind of experiences are there around certain management
strategies (flexibilisation of working hours, teamwork, etc.)?
* What forms of organizing were developed by workers in similar
* Where on the world are similar confrontations taking place?
In order to contribute to the workers' discussions and struggles we
need to understand the issues of conflict in the different places of
exploitation and listen to the workers there. In our region there
were strikes by assembly workers at Opel Bochum, Turkish cleaners of
railway cars and call centre-workers, which we could have responded
Thirdly, it is not enough to supply the right information for class
struggle and apart from that stay passive observers. When we have an
analysis of the situation we need to actively intervene in the
struggles, offer a critique of them and support their revolutionary
* How can a struggle be self-organized, how can the means of
production be appropriated as means of struggle?
* How can a struggle widen out over the firm- or branch-limits
without ending up in the hands of unions or other institutions?
* Where are hierarchies and divisions of the process of production
being kept up? Where does the everyday division of work along gender,
racism and qualification stay untouched?
* Where does the state ideology of war, racism, etc. catch on and how
can that be substantially attacked?
For all this we need to get an inside view into the different
relations of exploitation, and it is necessary be able to react
immediately to worldwide changes. The relative silence in face of the
war in Yugoslavia shows our weakness. We need to be able to circulate
information on struggles in Korea and against social democratic/green
party wars faster within the sphere of exploitation and to organize
We will prepare for the upcoming struggles and build contacts outside
of "our sectors of exploitation" in order to get away from the
dependency on 'their' information apparatus.
In theoretical discussions we have to gain the ability to criticise
the conditions radically and profoundly. We need to teach each other
the practical abilities, from lay-outs to sit-downs, everything we
need to take part in and intervene into the class struggles around
The time demands to finally liberate revolutionary organizing from
regional and "national/state" limits and create a worldwide relation
between militant collectives. For the circulation and globalisation
of the struggles!