Either it’s the people’s revolution or no revolution.
By: Zaher Baher
Before going further I must stress that the revolution for me is a social transformation to a non-hierarchical and classless society, socialism. And this article is very much connected to some of my previous articles, especially, “The people’s movement desperately needs working class solidarity” http://www.anarkismo.net/article/31254 and “Is the working class revolutionary?” https://www.anarkismo.net/article/30476.
My understanding, experiences and observations all tell me as an anarchist that the revolution must be a people’s revolution rather than a working class one. If we consider that anarchism is a practical method of analysing events and situations through facts and reality rather than texts, it must be odd for me to believe that the revolution should be the only duty of the working class, and seeing the working class as the essential dynamic power for transforming the society to socialism.
Furthermore, since emerging, the class systems and hierarchical societies created after the primitive communal one, made the need for revolution all the more necessary. This has been the reason for uprisings and revolutions throughout the world since then. There was a time when these uprisings and revolutions in Europe and the US intensified in the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries while people organised themselves through their own assemblies by using direct democracy.
This brings up fundamental questions for all of us. Why human beings should wait for capitalism or any other class system? to be implemented before starting to believe in revolution? Why the revolution’s future should be tied to the developing working class?
While in real life we see capitalism getting stronger, with the help of its dark forces and advanced technologies, and the working classes getting weaker, becoming paralysed. In fact the working class has adapted to capitalism very well and become an organ within the body of bourgeois society.
We must not live in the past, if we want to struggle against the system we live under now. We must change our tactics if the traditional struggles are ineffective and no more workable.
We should know that the definition of working class is now very much different from that of a hundred or two hundred years ago. We should also see that the developing technologies, to a very advanced level and emerging robots in the end would cause the extinction of the working class. In a few decades time the robots will replace workers in many workspaces. So for those of us believing the working class can liberate us, then perhaps they can hope and rely on the robots to do the job for us, and instead of the slogan of “working class unite” …this can be changed to: “robots unite”.
Real life does not just show us, it in fact proves that the worker is no more revolutionary than a student, the unemployed, a pensioner, a farmer, a peasant, an artisan, a shopkeeper, the self-employed and small businessmen. We also note that capitalism has not aged and is not in crisis. In fact capitalism is very young and may have many more years left to run, unless we organise ourselves and fight back against it effectively.
While the working class definition has been changed so has the definition of capitalism. Globalisation has had a huge impact on changing the working class quantity and qualities as explained in one of the links above as well as capitalism. It has taken capitalism forward but it took the working class movement backwards.
One of the impacts of globalisation on all classes in society is that it has dismantled the unity between them and within the working classes too. This is one of the major reasons nowadays we do not see a general strike, or even workers in sectors where they are very connected to one another. However, while globalisation has destroyed the unity of the working class or unity between the classes, it has built the unity between the different strata of many classes. It has created similar conditions among the strata and sharing it between the working class, peasants, petty bourgeois and middle class. This has become the common ground for sharing their struggles. The strata became the dynamic power of the revolution. While each of them belongs to a different class in society and joining the vast majority of the people, their activities and their demands reflect the demands of the society as whole
In present societies, anywhere we look, we can see all revolutionary movements are in fact the people’s movement. They are far from being classified as working class movements. Some of the best examples are the “Arab Spring” countries, the movements in Iran and Iraq, a few of the countries in Latin America, some of the Eastern European countries, to the current movement of Yellow Vests in France and Extinction Rebellion in the UK and other countries.
At present the struggle around single issues has become an important and urgent topic for people. They are very popular and people are more concerned about them whether its climate change, refugees & migrants, housing & homelessness, racism, the National Health Service, education, feminism or others. People almost from every section of society regardless of their class, strata, religion and ethnicity are involved and take action against the state and the system.
It must be clear for us that single-issue struggles should be linked to the system and the state. The root of each of them can be found within the system and we cannot achieve the aim of any of them completely as long as this system continues to exist. I also believe we cannot leave resolving single issue struggles to the working class while they are incapable of defending themselves.
The revolution is an economic, social, political, educational and cultural one. It has to come from the bottom of society not just from the factories and work places. It has to be a mass movement not just a workers movement. It has to resolve all the issues in society, not just the dispute between the workers and management. It will be humanities revolution not just the working class revolution.
If the working class is the dynamic power that means they lead us, they become the leaders. If they lead us it means there will be a gap between the leaders of the “working class” and those who are lead, “us”. This in fact creates the hierarchal line.
So a socialist society cannot be achieved by the working class alone as they are the minority in society. They should not have power above the rest of us. If they have the power, they will dominate society. Consequently the class system and a hierarchical society will continue to exist.