Principles

Members of Wasatch Anarchist Organization associate around the following points of unity:

Class

There is no all-encompassing human experience. Human society is split into various groupings called classes. A class system is a stratification of power in different areas of political, economic, and social life. While it is helpful to think of these hierarchies one at a time, it is important to keep in mind that a person’s experience is a combination of their positions in each social class, and that each oppression cannot be easily parsed out from others; these hierarchies are interlocking systems of oppression. We believe there are two main categories within each social class, the ruling and the oppressed.

The ruling classes hold power over the oppressed classes. They can be defined as the owners, decision makers, and executers of coercive power. The ruling classes subject the oppressed classes through various means of control including but not limited to: economic pressure, law and criminalization, gender norms, racial stereotypes, etc. Members of the ruling classes are constantly trying to secure more power, whether it be through the accumulation of capital or the consolidation of control over social institutions (such as the state). They also act to preserve their power at all costs, which often pits them against each other in the form of war, economic sanctions, etc.

It is through the exploitation of labor, the domination over social experiences, the repression of our creative thought, and the isolation and individualization of society, that the oppressed are held in this position. It is in the interests of all oppressed classes to overthrow class systems in order to live freely and in harmony with each other and the earth. This struggle against the hierarchy inherent in a class society is what we mean when we refer to concepts such as class war, or class struggle.

Capitalism

Capitalism is a competitive economic system based on the  exploitation of wage labor. Utilizing the state, capitalists exclude the majority of people from access to resources they need for survival. People are then forced to sell their labor for less than it is worth to the capitalist class in order to acquire money for necessities. Only a portion of the value a worker creates actually goes to the worker; the rest is unjustly appropriated by the capitalist.

Because capitalism is a competitive system, capitalists seek to minimize the amount of wages they pay to workers. This enables them to put more money into expanding and consolidating ownership of the economy under their private dictatorship. This process polarizes wealth across society, dividing society into two classes of workers and owners.

Capitalists also seek institutional partnerships with the state to create monopolistic conditions wherein capitalists can ensure super profits. As capitalism develops, the leading financial elites use their riches to become increasingly entrenched with state power.

Problems like greed and corruption are inherent outcomes of capitalist enterprises competing with each other for control over production. Simply put, problems like “money in politics” and “greedy businesses” will never be reformed.

Ultimately we wish to overthrow the capitalist system, as it is in direct opposition to a participatory and democratic society. The competitive market economy must be replaced with a cooperative economy based on mutual aid and the principle “from each according to ability, to each according to need”. In this new system, production will be directly planned and implemented by democratic bodies of communities and producers instead of the financial elite. Production will be organized to fit the needs of everyone rather than the interests of a few individuals.

The State

The state is the inequality of political power; It is the hierarchical, centralized administration of political affairs by a tiny minority who are bound to the interests of the capitalists. While the capitalists own the means of production, the state can be said to own the means of coercion. The police, prisons, military, and intelligence agencies are all tools used to keep the masses in line. The state serves the financial elite by violently maintaining the class system. Internationally, state imperialism plays a pivotal role in expanding the power of the rich and their process of accumulation into new territories. Once capitalism runs out of room to easily expand and accumulate wealth inside a nation it is the natural tendency of the capitalist system to use war for expansion.

While state actions like imperialism and the suppression of protests are beneficial to the upper class, we do not think state behavior can be reduced to the ruling economic class. Instead, the state and the capitalists are mutual partners, each perpetuating the social dominion of the other. For instance, in the eyes of the state, the capitalist economic system is a highly productive economy that serves its needs: providing surplus value for taxation as well as technological development for military dominance.

The state acting for its own interests is an important concept for strategizing a post-capitalist future, especially when it comes to whether or not the state should be used in revolution. Because the state is not reducible to the dominant economic class, we are opposed to using a state in transition to socialism/communism. Such a tactic institutes a social class of administrators that is stratified above the working class. The fundamental structure of capitalism– the division between leaders and led, between boss and worker– are reproduced with bureaucratic approaches to socialism.

In the place of state structures, we want society to be administered by federations of horizontal associations. These federations will be highly decentralized and operate as direct democracies in which those who are affected by certain decisions are the ones who make them. It is an ongoing project for anarchists to develop these kinds of structures even before the state is overthrown.

Racism

Like gender, race is a socially constructed notion. However, just because race is a social construct, does not make it trivial or any less real. Racism is more than just a type of behavior or “mentality”. It is the institutionalized oppression of marginalized racial groups. Racism causes disproportionately higher unemployment, incarceration, and death of racial minorities. Statist and capitalist ideologies serve to perpetuate this oppression through policies like the war on drugs and immigration law.

It is racist notions of white supremacy and nationalism that gives rise to colonial empires and genocidal treatment of indigenous people and cultures around the world. It is important to understand history from the perspective of these groups of people. We support the autonomy of all indigenous populations and strive to create a society that does not infringe on their way of life. We respect and support individuals and organizations within the anti-imperialist movements who strive for autonomy and liberation.

We respect and support the need for autonomous organizations of oppressed racial groups and seek to find better ways of building a genuinely multiracial anarchist movement.

Patriarchy

Patriarchy is the systemic domination of women by men. Patriarchy came into being long before capitalism and the state. Therefore, it is important to treat it as an oppression that can exist independently of capitalist and state structures.

The oppression of women manifests itself politically through the disempowerment of women in the private and public sphere; economically, through inequality in employment, wages, and access to medical care; and culturally, by the characterization of women as the “inferior” sex. The domination of women through sexual abuse and rape is another result of patriarchy.

The gender system is the cultural expression of patriarchal society. Gender norms, the masculine or feminine behavior people are pressured into, serve the patriarchy by socializing women to be submissive and men to be dominant.

The liberation of women is a movement in and of itself. We support the right of women to organize into committees or separate political organizations specifically for women to discuss and challenge the sexual hegemony of men. We also think that it is the right of women to define these spaces.

Queer Liberation

Both queer and women’s oppression are part of the same system of male dominance, and as such we oppose the oppression of queer and transsexual people. We challenge hetero-normative sexuality and gender.

We support the free development of sexuality, identity, and consensual relationships. Because oppression based on sexuality and gender is distinct from class oppression, though linked to it, we support autonomous organization to end these forms of oppression. We also urge worker and community organizations to support the struggles of people who are oppressed on the basis of gender and consensual sexual relationships.

Ecology

The ecosystem is a necessary part of continuous life on earth. The ecological problems caused by human society are rooted in the grow or die dynamics of capitalist competition, the competition of states for power, and other social hierarchies that promote a paradigm of humans dominating the natural world. We seek to dismantle the dominion of humans over the earth and establish more cooperative relations with the non-human world.

Ecological context is an important part of the struggle against class society. A contemporary praxis of anarchism must be built around a materialist analysis of resource and energy availability. The new world must not be propped up on non-renewable resources and destructive technologies; it must be compatible with the earth’s ecosystems.

Social Revolution

As anarchists, we support the dismantling of all hierarchical social systems. Structurally, we want a classless society administered through horizontal democracies where those who are affected by certain decisions are the ones who make them. This will not be accomplished automatically, nor will it come about as a necessary or determined result of capitalist accumulation. Anarchists must work to build the theoretical, organizational, and practical foundations for a movement to transform society.

Participation in Social Movements

We hold participation in social movements to be of high importance. We recognize that even liberal or reformist movements are fought by individuals with real grievances and struggles with society as it is currently organized. It is only by meeting them where they are at that we can build a radical movement. While some may believe that politics begins where there are many people present, we couldn’t disagree more. Supporting individuals in a struggle against a boss, landlord, or other manifestation of ruling class exploitation is just as important (if not more) than getting thousands of people to march down the street. It is the daily struggle against the ruling class where anarchist principles are best applied, not as empty slogans to be shouted from a stage at a crowd of spectators.

While participation in social movements is essential to building a liberatory social revolution, we must be careful in how we participate. Surely anarchists don’t want to reinforce ideas or tactics that are against our principles. At the same time, we do not want to impose our ideology in a coercive manner. Thus, it is important to form strategies that involve spreading anarchist ideas within social movements, while at the same time doing it in a way that isn’t in contradiction with the anarchist principles of autonomy and solidarity.

It is also important to develop ways in which people can participate in specifically anarchist initiatives. Providing space for people to develop their politics and views of society should be a goal of any anarchist initiative.

Direct Action

Direct action means striking at the root of a problem, instead of solving it through intermediary means. As Emile Pouget put it “Direct action is the plain and simple fleshing out of the spirit of revolt: it fleshes out the class struggle, shifting it from the realm of theory and abstraction into the realm of practice and accomplishment…it means that the working class, in constant rebellion against the existing state of affairs, expects nothing from outside people, powers or forces but rather looks to itself for its means of action.” This means that members of oppressed classes must only look to their own ability to make change, and then carry it out. Anarchists favor direct action methods because they perpetuate feelings of autonomy and solidarity that are crucial to building an anarchist society.

We believe that direct action is the only way for the oppressed classes to end their oppression. Likewise, anarchists should always argue in favor direct action, and  introduce radical methods. We should respect the decisions made in democratic spaces, but this doesn’t mean we have to completely dilute our politics. We should always look for opportunities to push the boundaries, recognizing that people aren’t obligated to agree or follow our lead. We should also be open to constructive criticism and re-evaluating our tactics, as we are not perfect, and make mistakes as much as anyone.

Mutual Aid

Mutual Aid is simply caring for one another. It is the cooperative process of fulfilling the needs of all, as opposed to the individualized competition for resources. Anarchists see individual freedom as something that can only be achieved in the context of collective responsibility and autonomy. Therefore, the only way to maximize one’s freedom is to maximize the well being of all. Anarchists wish to create a society based on the principle of mutual aid, and therefore must work to incorporate this principle into our organizing efforts.

Creating collective initiatives to provide basic economic and emotional aid is and has always been a key element to building revolutionary movements.

Education and Theory

Anarchist political theory has and should always come out of the real struggle of the oppressed classes. Theory is the consolidation of facts and ideas that inform and shape our actions, and in turn our actions must shape our theory. We reject the troubling “anti-intellectual” trend in anarchism that throws away this important element in anarchist politics in favor of an “anything goes” mentality. Anarchists should be critical of theory and analysis that is too abstract or obscure to really inform class struggle, but should not dwell in the opposite extreme and consider all theory, or any analysis as inherently bad. Instead of rejecting intellectual discovery, we should be pushing to allow space for the intellectualism of the masses to express itself.

Self education, and free school initiatives have always been a key element to social revolution. Providing a space for anyone to develop their imagination, knowledge, and creativity has proven to be an effective way to help individuals break out of the drudgery of oppressive society, and use their capacities in a constructive way. Anarchism is a politics of possibility, therefore it must also be a politics of discovery, of creativity, and of learning.

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