The Transition Phase: The Road To Freedom

 Introduction:

I will now consider a difficult subject; a subject that has been debated for years on the left. I want to share my thoughts on how I think the transition from today?s society to a free and democratic society could and should look like. Now, I don't think that what I present here will reveal some revolutionary new ways of looking at this issue, rather it's only my contribution to the debate based on my own thoughts.  I also want to point out that I do not present this on behalf of anyone. I only speak for myself. I'm just presenting my own personal views hoping that it will in some way be a useful and helpful contribution to further discussion. I would also like to hear your opinions on this topic. Do you disagree with something, did I leave something out etc. It's very important that we help each other in finding good solutions to our challenges. Please leave comments expressing your opinion. If you think the ideas I express in my article (or in my blog in general for that matter) are reasonable, also feel free to copy and share what you want and/or link to my blog in order to "spread the word".

I will divide this mainly into 4 parts, even though many things mentioned in these parts or stages if you will, probably will blend into each other in real life. I do so because I think there are some important stages in this transition that also need to be recognized and dealt with and discussed separately. How long the transition phase, and each stage will take, is in my view impossible to predict. We do know one thing though: the struggle for freedom will be long. How long it will take is up to the people participating.

 


 

 

Stage I: The beginning of the road to freedom - Building a movement: organization and growth.

In this stage organizing and growth are keywords. In this stage we would have to focus on protesting, marching, making ourselves heard, organizing, educating, convincing, enlightening others, educating others, educating ourselves, getting more people to join etc. In other words, lots of different non-violent actions in order to get attention and gain support. Everyone should do this. Unions, environmental groups, students, workers, seniors, idealists; really all who are concerned, engaged, and who want a better society must start getting seriously involved in working for change.

It´s important that the organizing includes having a goal of getting people to join for common causes, a common platform if you will, but without it leading to hierarchical structures of leaders etc. Instead the different people and organizations should communicate, cooperate, arrange events, meetings etc - using different arenas to discuss and work for consensus, not necessarily on all topics but so that a constructive common platform and plan could evolve. Communities and local areas should of course have self determination; each community have their own issues that need to be addressed, discussed and handled based on their unique situation, but in order for a big growing movement to become successful there has to be some common ground worked out. We need to find a good healthy combination of self determination within communities and local areas, and at the same time, in solidarity with each other, work out common strategies and tactics.


Now in this growth phase there will be variations in terms of support for local movements and their common platform in different communities. In one town or community there will be lots of support, in another less. The people working in the different communities must take the amount of support into consideration and find the best way of organizing in their local communities. There is in other words no magic absolute formula. It depends on the circumstances. There should of course be a general fight in terms of bargaining/collective bargaining everywhere, but in a community with lots of support people could for example organize sit-down strikes at different workplaces, and even local general strikes in order to get attention, gain support and of course gain more rights. In a local community with little support one should probably focus more on bargaining, protesting, convincing, and educating others. But the way I see it, a general rule of thumb when it comes to these issues is that the more support that is gained in the community and nationwide, the more direct non-violent action like sit-down strikes, general strikes etc. could be carried out.

We must also always remember, thruout this transition phase that we have to look in long term perspective. Changes aren't going to come over night. It will be a long hard struggle, but in the end it will be worth it. In this stage I we must be a little patient when it comes to huge radical changes. The important thing in the beginning is to focus on growth; working for gaining support within the different communities, but also in the general population. In other words, building up an established force that will lead to serious changes.

We should also bear in mind that in any stage of this struggle for a free democratic society we have to expect lots of opposition from the elites and their supporters and servants. Not only do we have to expect and prepare ourselves for media-propaganda, we also have to expect more police brutality. It's a natural reaction of the financial elite who will become more and more scared of the movement(s) as they grow. The state and government are often very servile to the wealthy financial elite, especially in the US where the wealthy more or less control policies. The police is a tool of the business-run, or business-influenced state to try to crush the ones who want to take back from the wealthy what has been stolen thru bailouts, exploitation and speculation at the stock exchange. The elites are starting to feel threatened, they want to keep all that they have stolen, so naturally they want to stop The Occupy Movement and anyone else involved in the struggle with police force. These tendencies are however an indication that we're on the right track: The elites are getting scared, and react by increasing their effort in trying to crush movements. The financial elite will however fail. Police brutality is counter-productive, it just leads to more support and sympathy for people engaged in the struggle among the general population.

 

Stage II: Continued growth, frequent striking, and fight for reform.

Stage II begins when the movement has grown substantially, moving steadily towards soon organizing and/or having the support from the majority of the population in a nation. Stage II should be a continuation of all the things in stage I, but there should now be an increased focus on organizing strikes. As many strikes as possible, in any form, whether it's sit-down strikes, local general strikes etc. This should be planed organized and conducted in any place that has a certain amount of community support. Striking is an important and effective way of fighting the wealthy owners and achieving rights. Fighting for rights in the workplace should be one of the main goals at this point. That would include fighting for better work conditions, more pay, increased democratization of workplaces etc. The unions will naturally play a central role in striking, but It's important that all the other organizations involved and engaged in the struggle for freedom will back, support and help the workers and unions in their important contribution to eventually stripping the wealthy of their undemocratic power. As we grow solidarity amongst the different local movements is increasingly important. Solidarity and cooperation among the different participants must be a very important factor in the struggle for democracy and freedom.


As I mentioned the strike frequency should increase as support increases. Now, if the support in a community is very high, than one could go further than striking and bargaining/collective bargaining etc. There might arise situations in which a huge majority of a relatively big geographic area within a nation supports even further action, like workers' takover of economic institutions, even though the majority of the nation is against it. These situations could get tricky as to what should be done, and I don't think there are any magic formulas or general answers to this. It would depend on the specific situation; how strong is the nationwide opposition to this, how free and democratic is the nation state, how much is the general population affected by the acts, and so on. I think though, that in most cases areas that have a lot of community support - the overwhelming majority - for making the institutions in their local society democratic they should take steps beyond just striking and take over production even though we're just in stage II.

An increasing number of politicians will, as the movement grows try to get on the movement's good side. The people involved in the movement should not be fooled. Some of the politicians may be sincere and honest, but that's really irrelevant. They can agree with the movement all they want, the thing is, they're not needed. The people can do this work themselves, by more direct action, constructive work and cooperation and solidarity amongst the people and organizations involved, operating within a relatively flat non-hierarchical structure. What should be done in terms of dealing with politicians is pushing for short term reform like increased taxation of the wealthy, and avoiding cuts in welfare programs. We should avoid any type of direct participation in established government and state institutions including getting mixed up with party politics. Instead the movement should work by itself organizing constructive non-violent action (like protesting, educating, convincing, striking democratization of workplaces etc, everything I mentioned earlier) in the different local areas and communities, carried out by the people living there; working actively, without the use of government, to gradually shift power from government and state to increasingly engaged, enlightened and determined communities and workplaces.

 

Stage III: Majority support  -  Direct action, responsibility and awareness of threats.

 

Stage III starts when the majority of a nation either supports and or have actively joined the struggle for freedom. Now, I want to point out that stage III is also a growing stage, our goal should be to convince as many people as possible to support and/or join the struggle. However, by being the majority one can focus on lots of other things as well: Increased direct action; getting major things done! One important factor in this stage is in my view worker's takeover of the economic institutions, but I want to again stress that the right time for specific actions might vary from community to community. The frequency of worker's takeover of institutions and any other direct act in local areas may vary from place to place depending on community support. If the vast majority in a community and the nation in general, supports these initiatives, then there?s no doubt as to what should be done: take action! Carry the owners and CEOs out of their offices if necessary.



Now, as I mentioned earlier violent opposition is very likely to increase more and more as the movement grows, and in stage I and II brutality and violence from state and the establishment must be fought with non-violent means in most cases (maybe some exceptions can be made at the end of phase II though). However, in stage III, the movement and its supporters can now start fighting back with violence if necessary. There's really nothing controversial about that -  It's only self defense. It's just defending democracy. There will most certainly be owners and wealthy people who desperately want to fight violently in an attemt to maintain their wealth and power. It will then be necessary to use force, and if necessary violent self defense in order to maintain the course that the majority wants. The use of violent self defense agianst the ones who violently want to fight the will of the people, the vast majority, must be as humane as possible on the movement's behalf. Absolute prevention of disruption with as less rough treatment and violence as possible should be the norm.

 

We also know from past attempts to achieve changes that not just police, but also military force has been used by the powerful to crush movements wanting change. A Coup d'état for example, is something many people have experienced and had to suffer the consequences from. We must have that in mind all thru this transition from today's society to freedom and democracy. The movement should discuss and consider thoroughly how it can avoid attempts like this. There might come attempts like this from powerful people in the future and we must watch out for them and do anything within our power to avoid this. What the movement has to do if a situation like this would accrue, I think is hard to sketch out in detail here, but I would hope, and strongly believe, that the entire population would rise up together with the movement in order to stop it. After all, the people have the potential to successfully fight any type of tyranny and oppression.

 


But how should we handle the established state and government institutions in general in the IIIrd stage? Well, remember that in stage I and II changes  would have accrued gradually in these government and state structures like parliament, congress etc. As the movement grew the attitudes of the people would change. The awful politicians running things today would be replaced with less awful ones. The organization of these institutions would be changed for the better, from focus on working for the rich and powerful to more focus on what's best for the population. Central government decision making would be weakened as the movement would reject taking direct part in established state and government institutions, and instead working by itself. Power would gradually have spread more and more to communities, unions, workplaces etc. There will of course be some tasks that just have to do be done centrally. I think in general that this should be handled by the movement organizing a system of representation based on the movement's common platform where instead of politicians and bureaucrats doing this work, recallable delegates would be elected by the different organizations and people participating in the movement. I don't think it's necessary to work out all the details on how this would be executed; it should be up to the movement to decide the exact organization based on its principles and consensus building.

In stage III the movement should focus a lot on how police and military should be handled and run. I have now just described how we should handle central institutions and tasks in general. Central tasks would of course also include handling military, and to a certain degree, police. I feel however that I have to address this specific issue more thoroughly. The people and organizations now in majority must take special responsibility on handling these institutions correctly. We can't take these issues lightly, if we do than powerful and wealthy people could find ways to take over, and we'd be an easy target for the people, both domestic and from abroad who want to crush our struggle for democracy and freedom. It is very important that the movement and its supporters just before entering stage III and after entering it, establish arenas for thoroughly, well organized constructive discussions on how this institutions should be handled. As I mentioned we've seen lots of coups in the past, so we need to have a well thought out plan to prevent this from happening again. We also know that there have been examples of individuals within movements wanting change who have gained power in the state and military apparatus and by that gained increasing, often despotic power dragging society back into tyranny, hierarchy and oppression. Now, the chances of this happening to a movement with well established principles and structures of the flat non-hierarchical type, with frequent use of consensus-building, and recallable delegates etc, is very slim, but It's important to not take this lightly. Police and military institutions are used to conduct legal force and violence, they're power centers in nature; it's therefore important that these institutions are handled in a correct and safe matter. I think that by using the same methods described above on how to handle the central tasks in general with the use of recallable delegates and consensus etc within the framework of an egalitarian flat organized movement structure it would be pretty safe. Police institutions will also be handled more locally, so the danger of things getting out of hand in regards to police is much smaller than military institutions, but both should be handled safely based on a well thought out plan.

Now let's look at stage III more broadly. As I mentioned, worker's takeover of economic institutions should be one of the main factors and should be carried out as much as possible depending on community support. This should of course be done alongside of in general building strong, engaged, enlightened, solidaric, just and democratic communities working together with other communities. As these tendencies are becoming increasingly established thruout a large geographic area, like a nation, we will gradually enter stage IV.

 

Stage IV: Completing the transition phase: Entering a sustainable free democratic society

In this stage the sky's the limit for the areas who have made the important achievements of creating a more just free and democratic society. Important tasks for these geographic areas in this stage would be working in solidarity with people around the world who have not yet reached the same achievements, and at the same time, not being naive, nor paranoid, watching out for external destructive forces and taking necessary precautions. I don't want to say much more about this stage here. It would be up to the people living in the different areas to decide details and exact organization in their society/community. I have given my personal opinions on how the society should be organized from here in the article The Society We Should Stive for. And with that I'll end this article by thanking the ones taking the time to read this, and also wishing everybody the best of luck in their struggle for freedom.

 

 

Links:

Noam Chomsky at Occupy Boston

Noam Chomsky clip on workers takeover of workplaces

The Corporation (documentary)

The Take (documentary)

17 kommentarer

fin blogg, skal lese ofte på denne bloggen !

struggleforfreedom

12.11.2011 kl.13:50

Thanks!

14.11.2011 kl.01:52

You are completly right about the people needing to take over the economic instutions - jobs. Society has evolved to the point where we no longer need money, trading or bartering to keep society funcioning. We only need democracy and a majority of the people to volunteer for jobs and nothing would have to change except starvation, war and genocide would all vanish. There are enough people who care for family and love and peace that people would volunteer and all would soon have enough. But first the people must come into the light of their own power. Only together can we take back what is ours, life.

14.11.2011 kl.23:04

I believe in non-violence until people start getting killed. We must get slightly violent or at least be willing to control criminals from hurting others. I am referring to police beating people, to banks stealing people's homes, to people being arrested and jailed for non-violent things like drugs and prostitution. All the non-violent people are being herded into prisons and into corners to protest in out of the way. Another problem with non-violence only as a rule is that we can only possibly raise awareness. We can not truly occupy or control anything without weapons to defend ourselves with. We don't have to use deadly ones. We can use what the cops use. The problem you will find with spending your life raising awareness, is that people do not care until they are affected themselves.

14.11.2011 kl.23:24

IN AMERICA THE BALLOT BOX IS THE PATH TO REFORM anything less like what I think is advocated in this article is unacceptable to myself and many in the Nation who have supported OWS. IM a new jersey union member progressive and will support america militarily if needed to defend it from anarchists

Monique DC

15.11.2011 kl.15:15

"support america militarily if needed to defend it from anarchists" This made me wonder just who the anarchists are? The people standing up to the powers that be in the parks or the people at the top of political and economic organizations who have no compassion or concern for their fellow citizens. When we as a nation fund drone military equipment to remotely kill people (innocent civilians often - and in countries where we have not even legally declared war) how we can call them the anarchists? How can we justify providing military service to a country that bullies the rest of the world for vague, ill conceived reasons? When we are willing to spend our money on the weapons of killing, but not willing to provide health care to pregnant women or dental care to children. We so have our heads on wrong. And, I beleive, a large part of this is the intential downgrading of our schools so that the majority of the public will believe the corporate drivel that masquerades as news in America. Most informed people that I know get their news from BBC, from Canada, from internet resources because, in the US, even National Public Radio is so blatantly biased it is difficult to believe that people still contribute to their organization.

Fractional Change

15.11.2011 kl.15:33

In reference to the comment posted on Nov 14, 2011 kl.11:04PM - The advocation of any physical violence of any sort leaves a very real and dangerous possibility for the abuse of said powers, as we see oh so often on a day to day basis around the world today.

If discussed for long enough I am sure that many points regarding the problematic consequences of said issue could be drawn upon. A couple regarding my thoughts on the matter of the top of my head are:

-Advocating violence of any level is open to interpretation, in such an abstract setting then a seemingly limitless list of justifications can be used for violence against pretty much anything given the right amount of time and persuasion. A few examples would be the display of decent within the revolutionary population which is then met with brutal force, a very common trait among some of history's post revolutionary societies, China, the USSR and Cambodia to name but a few. A current example could be the justifications used for NATO intervention in Libya.

- If a movement were to grow through non-violent means to a level that was mentioned in stage three then it has grown to that stage through means inspiring. Personally, I feel that when successful, this is the most effective and positive method for change, as it is a change that has ultimately come from within. The very instance force is used, even in self defence, then initiates a behaviour of imposing one's will upon another through physical violence, therefore going against the notion of respecting another persons thoughts and ideas (regardless of if those ideas are contrary to your own or the majorities) and subjecting someone to something which they are not willing to participate in. The outcome is therefore an unfair one, and one heading back toward becoming what the movement was originally working to eradicate. Relentless civil disobedience is, in my opinion, the most powerful tool. It highlights the flaws of the system. Any civil disobedience met with brutality often serves to build support for a movement against such brutality and the system at large.

-While civil disobedience will bring to surface opponents of an opposition, I imagine that it cannot create the type of enemies that violence does. If an aggressive police/officer is injured or even killed while doing their job, there is a strong possibility of a vengeful family (who at some stage may have either in part supported aspects of the movement or been in the middle torn between options and sympathetic to the movements cause) who are then very likely to swiftly side with opposing any revolutionary movement. And this would be regardless of the fact that the officer was the aggressor, because the officer in the eyes of the family would have 'just been doing their job'. If the movement is truly about mutual respect and total inclusiveness, then shouldn't this include leaving the door and opportunity for change open for the aggressors, be it the masters or the puppet police/military?

-I am aware of the troubles facing a movement (in particular state brutality) which would choose to adopt such a non-violent approaches as mentioned in this post. It raises some very sensitive issues as to what lengths of sacrifice people are willing to take in the name of freedom and equality, as the likelihood of non-violence being met with brutality and thus resulting in casualties is high. And these are issues that should be discussed, and please don't think that I think I have the answers. I am very interested to hear any comments for or against what I have posted in order to refine ideas and see such suggestions from an outside perspective. A good point of focus of discussion is how to achieve change though non-violent civil disobedience while managing to successfully managing to dissuade the use of government brutality.

After all, working together is one of the key features of the occupy movement.

P.S. I am amazed that people still have faith in reform through the current ballot box system. Sure, in theory it is a brilliant idea. However, if the last three US presidential elections are anything to go by then I would say I have more faith the Greek economy?s success than the US electoral system?.

struggleforfreedom

15.11.2011 kl.17:55

I´ve gotten a lot of response on the "violent defense" that I mention in the article, but remember, this is when the MAJORITY of people have joined and/or support the movement. It´s simply just defending DEMOCRACY. Also notice that I say that we need to use violence IF NECESSARY. There´s nothing controvercial about defending democracy - the will of the people.

Fractional Change

15.11.2011 kl.20:29

Ok, but if it is defending democracy then that democracy then entails a set of values which as I said previously, when subject to interpretation would then become an abstract issue, would permit the use of violence. How would you determin who or what was 'threatening the democracy'? And how could it be ensured that this then privelige of the majority could not be manipulated by renegade opputunistic and manipulative individuals?

I just worry that if there was to be a clean slate, any allowance of violence thereafter, no matter how small that allowance would be would be, would in time have a potential grow and develop. Do you at least see the point of view that I am coming from struggleforfreedom?

I would like to say that I bring these points up not to undermine the blog you wrote, I feel there are some very valuable contributions in there, and these are simply my interpretations contribution to the discussion as you invited for.

struggleforfreedom

15.11.2011 kl.21:12

"How would you determin who or what was 'threatening the democracy'?"

I´m talking about if someone actively tries to violently disrupt or dismantle acivements made by the majority, like violent attacks against different local movements, attemt to with the use of violence dismantle different functions within the movement etc. In a situation like this, where the movement is the majority, violent SELF DEFENSE must be used IF NECESSARY, but as humane as possible, of course. That´s my opinion, and it´s just common sense in my view.

"no matter how small that allowance would be would be, would in time have a potential grow and develop. Do you at least see the point of view that I am coming from struggleforfreedom?"

I understand what you´re saying, but we can´t simply just stand still and watch a violent reactionary minority dismantle the achivements of the vast majority...Don´t you agree? I want to avoid the use of violence as much as possible and I strongly favor non-violent action like strikes, civil disobedience, protest, and peaceful workers takeover of industry thru democratic processes, I´m just saying that it MIGHT be necessary to use self defence if the reactionary miority becomes violent and that it might be a little naive to think that all of the financial elite will give up their privileges without the use of violence. Agree..?

Piero Giorgi

16.11.2011 kl.02:43

You are right. People should reclaim the economy.

For now, though, Goldman Sachs and the FED are conquering the key positions in Europe. Scary.

http://99vs1.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/are-the-1-taking-over-europe-and-next/

999

24.11.2011 kl.00:19

Carry the owners and CEO out of their offices? So a proletariat revolution, then? What do workers know about running a business? About managing risk? They just show up everyday and get a paycheck.

There's a reason why Marxist has never worked and never will. Insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting different results.

jane

24.11.2011 kl.05:42

Anyone serious about joining a movement that will actually have an effect on taking back our country should watch 'Thrive' movie at http://www#youtube#com/watch?v=nzZzDJjbXEg&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL They have an awesome website at www.thrivemovement.com where you can choose any of several ways to become involved and get results.

struggleforfreedom

24.11.2011 kl.17:05

999:"So a proletariat revolution, then?"

It´s not just the working class that should join. All sorts of people should join the fight for a better society. The point is that people should be able to participate in running their own workplaces and communities democratically.

"What do workers know about running a business?"

A lot! We have good examples of this from Spain and Argentina etc. Different sorts of Co-ops are also growing in number.

"Insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting different results."

This is not true. I totally reject Leninism (which was the model used in most countries in the past)

primitivetimes

26.12.2011 kl.22:43

I agree with your vision for the most part. Only thing I would say is it is too early to be focusing on things like strikes, shutdowns, etc. Unless, of course, they are fully initiated by the workers themselves. The most recent port shutdown here in the U.S. was not a good PR move in my opinion. At this stage, the most important thing for the Occupy movement is gaining people's sympathy and increasing its numbers, and the way to do that is by providing solutions and creating the new system themselves.

The U.S. today is a highly indoctrinated society. Most don't know they are simply playing the game designed by the 1%. They don't understand how a shutdown or strike is in their interest. They only see the lost wages and complain that the occupiers are hurting them. Until those people see the bigger picture, we need different actions.

I wrote more about this on my blog if you're interested.

http://www.primitivetimes.com/2011/yeah-shutting-down-the-ports-is-good-but/

struggleforfreedom

27.12.2011 kl.00:54

primitivetimes:

Hi. I think it depends on the situation. In some cases/areas strikes and shutdowns etc might be the right things to focus on.

Yes, the indoctrination is very real. That´s why we, in a respectful manner, must try our best to convince and enlighten.

Thanks for your thoughts.

sff

Peter S. López (@Peta_de_Aztlan)

03.01.2012 kl.23:53

Good approach to examining the general situation. We need more such sharing. Let us speak of the merits of democratic socialism. What kind of economy are we looking at? The question of violence will ultimately be answered by the people guided by vanguard elements. Much of the work to be done is with ourselves, our own psyche-spirit. @Peta_de_Aztlan

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