The following is an opinion piece by an Ecuadorian, Joseph SP, viewing the events in their country. It was originally published on Oct. 8th, 2019 on Indymedia Ecuador. What follows is our translation. Note, throughout the writer makes use of the gender neutral -x.
CW: mentions of homophobia & domestic violence.
I almost never post on social networks, but today I cannot stop thinking about the turbulent social conditions which we live in today in [Ecuador] and the way they affect my life. Some on social networks have made calls for PEACE and calm, clamoring because of the paralyzation brought by mobilizations of the most dispossessed sectors of society: the indigenous, the peasants, women and students. With hashtags like #EcuadorPaísDePaz [tr. Ecuador country of peace] we would be made to believe that PEACE is something that was always present and that “some” have come to break and vandalize it. Nonetheless, it’s impossible for me to imagine if I have every really known PEACE and if others in the same boat have known PEACE before all these protests. Do I really know PEACE? Who knows PEACE? What is PEACE really?
The following is a translation of a text by Proletarios Revolucionarios, an ultra-left group out of Quito, Ecuador. Though the group dissolved in 2016, they offer us this analysis published on Oct. 2nd, 2019. The original Spanish-language text can be found here.
The recent economic measures by the Ecuadorian government are austerity measures used in times of capitalist crisis, which have been applied by right-wing, “neo-liberal,” left-wing and “21st c. socialist” governments the world over, because they are bound by the same logic of capitalist production, which lives on the exploitation of the working-class. In fact, in times of crisis, Capital always applies the same economic policy everywhere against our class: time to tighten belts or there will be greater impoverishment or an increase in exploitation.
Recently we were asked about our thoughts on communization & decolonization and this essay is our response.
It should first be noted that the communization milieu is indeed European in origin and largely does not address our settler-colonialist reality in the so-called Americas. Its largely European writers are conceptualizing from a different context than we live under in the so-called Americas (& other colonized lands).
Then why do we still talk about communization?
Those of us that work on this project still find value in communization theory because it demonstrates a clear way to bring about the conditions for communism immediately.
But what is communism:? For us, and fellow travelers, communism is not a mode of production. It is not just a economic system of ‘fairer’ wealth distribution. It’s a broad spectrum of lifeways that are based on communal social relations, including (but not exclusive to) mutual aid, solidarity, the collapse of the production / consumption binary (thus, the abolition of work), the abolition of the State, abolition of money, the abolition of value, the abolition of race & gender as a site of oppression, the abolition of cis-hetero-patriarchy (and all that entails, like compulsory heterosexuality). Some also call this anarchy. A negation of what props up Western capitalist civilization.
We are not interested in a transitional stage, as ‘revolutionary socialists’ call for, or in an incremental way, as those calling for ‘dual-power’ or ‘building the commune.’ Those of us that work on this project are not indigenous, but we do have indigenous ancestry. As we have had our ties cut off to our much-more communal lifeways of our respective indigenous ancestors, we are left to find other possible roads towards a free & communal life without misappropriating contemporary or ancient indigenous lifeways (though understanding these lifeways will be paramount to the successful project of assuring a free, communal way of life that does not doom us all). We do not claim that communization would replace indigenous resistance & revolt against the settler-colonial capitalist world, rather we maintain that we understand that without this resistance & revolt the settler-colonial capitalist world will remain.
It should also be noted that although communization theorists employ Marxian 1 We make a distinction between Marxist & Marxian, as other pro-communization theorists do. This is because we view most Marxist variants as distortions of Marx’s critique of capitalist political economy. So by Marxian we note that Marx developed these categories & concepts. categories & concepts, they do not see these categories & concepts as eternal. We recognize them as tools which Marx developed to understand & critique capitalism (of his time) and not necessarily eternal categories & concepts that will / would / should always exist. We will not carry these concepts into a post-capitalist, de-colonized world. If anything, the communism which we write about would be a clear rupture from not only capitalism, the State, patriarchy, white supremacy but from Western civilization itself. This is why communization theorists often call themselves communists and not Marxists.
What communization theory largely offers is not a rigid program, but an understanding of how capitalism functions (with its embedded contours of race & gender) and what it would mean to abolish it. It allows for space for improvisation & flexibility when it comes to the actual process of what communism (or anarchy) could look like. There is no rigid party line.
Communism is not a state of affairs to establish (or impose) but rather it is the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. And if the communism Marxists, and some anarchists, are attempting to establish retains the same settler-colonial relationship to the land then it’s not communism at all. Settlers building a commune on occupied land still maintains a class society. A class society where settlers are indeed still preventing indigenous people from reproducing their lifeways, as they see fit.
Now decolonization, like communism, is a vast topic. And like full communism, decolonization (or anti-colonialism) will vary from place to place, bio-region to bio-region, etc. A one-size fits all plan does not exist (and should not exist) and the creation of such a plan would grind against our strong anarchist inclinations.
We can think about communization and decolonization as two aspects of the same weather system. Communization would attack the capitalist social relations which exist on occupied land, but clearly it would not go far enough. We’re writing from occupied Tongva territory, known by its original name Tovaangar, and to merely create communism (anarchy) and make no attempt to restore native lands to their original inhabitants would (once again) not be communism at all. Decolonization (anti-colonialism) reminds us that there is more to be done.
The coupling of communization & decolonization recognizes, especially with ever-intensifying climate change, that settlers do not deeply, or even superficially, understand the deep natural history of the land they are on. Here in so-called Los Angeles we are constantly facing the increasing danger of massive wild fires. But wild fires are an ancient part of this landscape. The ecology of the landscape made famous, via its mass particularization, around the world depends on fire for its rejuvenation. What has caused an increase of danger for humans is not just climate change bringing less rain and hotter weather, but also the fact that unmitigated capitalist development has made it profitable to build in places which would previously burn with little effect on human life: hilltops, in mountain forests, etc.
Communization works as a corrective on Marxism and Left-Anarchism which merely call for a different kind of management of production (worker self-management, state-run management) instead of a fundamentally different set of social relations. Even Marx noted that communism is part of the human community’s return to a re-connection with the land, instead of capitalism’s attempt to control & extract as much value from it (though we are also critical of humanism as well). Since the beginning of colonization, Indigenous people across the world have repeated that the settler-colonial-capitalist way of life has not only been genocidal but has also been an unmitigated act of ecocide.
This is our understanding. A work in progress, but our understanding. There can be no ‘decolonized socialist state,’ just as there is no such thing as ‘scientific socialism.’ A way of life cannot be a science. What we desire is to see the words communism, and even anarchy, to eventually be forgotten and instead live in a world where we can be intimately connected to the land and to each other, and understand that this disconnection is an alienation much more ancient than the alienation we have from our labor under capitalism.
CW: sexual assault, misogynistic slurs, descriptions of murder / assault
First published on Antagonismo, on Aug 17th 2019. An account by an anarchist feminist in Mexico City. Translator’s note: throughout feminine adjectives were used which cannot be replicated in English. The translation follows.
The following is a translation of an article that first appeared on the French-language radical website, Révolution Permanente on July 23rd, 2019. This website is an organ of a certain current within the French New Anticapitalist Party, and while this translation is not an endorsement of their party politics (or any party politics), we value this piece since we get to hear first hand from some of the Gilets Noirs (Black Vests, a nod to the recent Yellow Vests mov’t)2A direct action collective of undocumented immigrants in France, largely of African origin.
A blog post originally written Carbure & published on Médiapart on May 7th, 2019. We have translated other pieces by Carbure in the past and we share this translation since it echos sentiments we fell when it comes to our ideas, radical media & mass media.
Far-Left circles have recently been annoyed by criticisms of [Juan] Branco 3“Close adviser to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, he has worked for the Criminal Special Court of Central Africa and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.” (Source:Wikipedia), [Frédéric] Lordon 4“He is an influential figure in France’s Nuit debout movement.” (Source:Wikipedia), [François] Ruffin 5“He is the founder and editor-in-chief of the satirical quarterly Fakir; Ruffin is best-known for directing the film Merci patron! (2016), as well as for playing an instrumental role in the formation of the Nuit debout movement in France.” (Source:Wikipedia), and other media radicals, blaming those who critiqued them for a supposed elitism that is responsible for the fact that our ideas – mainly our communist and anarchist ideas – are not “present” throughout the population and are only discussed in restricted circles. But it must be clearly stated: if these people [Branco, Lordon, Ruffin, etc.] occupy the top billing on media posters it is precisely because they are not revolutionaries. Despite being not being very radical, they are also quite accessible and help “people” think, which should then help lead these “people” towards more radical ideas: though as soon as they are present the question of revolution is rejected from the get-go; being not-very-radical is the condition of access to public debate.
Originally published on May 1st, 2019 by Chilean comrades at Comunidad de Lucha. What follows is our translation.
The following is a collectively-written, anonymous statement on the fiasco with the Maoist-turn within Defend Boyle Heights and their antagonism towards las O.V.A.S.6Overthrowing Vendidos, Authority & the State, the Psyco Brigrade & the radical space La Conxa in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles.
First published here: https://mediarevolt.tumblr.com/ Here we re-publish it in solidarity with these projects. Please feel free to re-share & re-publish this statement.
As pro-revolutionists committed to cultivating revolution, many often look to coalitions to do the work of collaboration and moving with the the oppressed towards revolutionary practice. In actuality, when we work together it’s important to not only iron where we agree and have affinity, but where we disagree and where our affinity diverges, where our strategies might actually be counter to one another: i.e. antagonisms. So that we are not surprised in the future, and we don’t flatten struggles for the sake of false unity.
This text was originally published on Jan. 22nd 2019 on Carbure Blog, written by AC & LG in France. A translation was sent to us from Carel Wexler, we merely edited a few things. What follows is the translation.
This contribution can be read as a set of preliminary reflections, which we think are necessary to understand the movement in progress. In the heat of the moment, one cannot immediately settle the important questions that arise. However, to take the situation seriously, it seemed to us necessary to lay the groundwork by first qualifying these questions and the theoretical place in which they arise. This contribution will be followed by a second part, tackling certain limits of the theory of communization, which prevent us from dealing with this movement in its uniqueness and, more generally, which limit the understanding of the unfolding episode in which we find ourselves. It is therefore an introductory effort and we hope to be able to answer, as soon as possible, the questions we are trying to ask here.