Radical forum at D.C. anti-capitalist protest
Washington--Anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian activists
from around the U.S. participated in several forums. They discussed and debated
the meaning of their activism during the World Bank and International Monetary
Fund protests of Sept. 22-28 in Washington, D.C. The title of the event was
"Hey, Anti-Authoritarian Anti-Capitalists, What are You FOR? Where is the
movement going? A Dialogue Between Anarchism and Marxist-Humanism."
The speakers included Cindy Milstein (an anarcho-communist
influenced by Murray Bookchin's social ecology), Anne Jaclard
(Marxist-Humanist), Rodney (Australian ecological anarchist), Ben Grosscup
(Revolutionary Social Anarchist, co-author of "Open letter to
anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist movement" calling for critical
revolutionary thought), and myself, a Marxist-Humanist. About 55 activists
"Since Seattle, we've switched the dialogue around.
Now Capitalism is named as the enemy and discussed," declared Cindy
Milstein. She continued, "I agree with the need for dialectics... to be
clear about your goal, always fighting for something at the same time as you're
fighting against the specific oppression. One way of doing this is asking what
are the maximal demands and the immediate demands in the present? Focus on a
demand that can be done right now, with aspirations for the globalized maximal.
"For example, one neighborhood organized to run itself
like in the recent uprisings in Argentina is an immediate goal. Self-organized
and directly democratically run neighborhoods, organized in a network of
confederated neighborhoods globally, is a globalized maximal goal. My critique
of the Anti-Capitalist Convergence People's Strike protest is this: Why not
organize an open house of anarchism to provide a context...We need to think a
lot about our theory and activity and how they relate."
Ben Grosscup took up issues discussed in his "Open
"On the question of organization vs. spontaneity--there is a problem with
dualistic thinking that rejects all organization as being static. On how this
relates to the protests this week in D.C., the People's Strike collective says:
'Bring affinity groups to do your own action'...
"It seems for many that the militancy of the deed at a
protest is supposed to speak for itself. This is a big part of the
anti-intellectualism that we have in the movement. The intellectual's task is to
make ideas easier to understand. We need a more holistic idea of
I tried to address the ideas of Ben Grosscup, Doyle and
Cindy Milstein from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. I consider theirs to be the
strongest ideas of the anti-authoritarian movement, but I think they get bogged
down in the intersection of thought and reality, leading to an over reliance on
models or forms of revolutionary organization.
Grosscup and Doyle write, "Our vision for the future
should inform how we organize in the present." They argue for "lasting
systems of self-governance and community decision-making that mirror the free
society we want to build."
Marxist-Humanism doesn't stop at forms of organization. It
is concerned with the relationship between philosophy and forms of organization
born out of spontaneity in the process of mass revolt. Marxist-Humanism doesn't
offer any blueprint or model—in fact we oppose it as a barrier to the full
expression of human creativity which is social revolution.
So far, there have been three of these "What are You
FOR? Where is the movement going?" open forums in DC during national
mobilizations since 2001. Their success shows that there is a strong drive
within people to talk about the questions facing anyone who wants to abolish
capitalism and authoritarianism.
Published by News and Letters Committees