No Domination, No Authority; We struggle for more on May Day

No Domination, No Authority; We struggle for more on May Day

Traditionally on May Day, workers of the world receive best wishes in the struggle from organizations all over the world. Many of them will remind them of the struggle for the 8-hour day, which led to the tragic events of 1886. This May Day, besides revolutionary greetings, we'd like to begin with a few words about what else the people who lost their lives after the Haymarket incident were fighting for.

The courtroom speeches of the Haymarket martyrs were written down and show us that these were men of ideals that went far beyond just the struggle for better working conditons. Louis Lingg explained that ”Anarchy means no domination or authority of one man over another”.

This idea is very basic to the ideas of anarchism. That all people should be free and equal. But this equality is not the pseudo-equality of the bourgeoise classes, who usually define this word as a equal right to vote for an elected representative. True equality, in our tradition, is expressed by the idea that divisions caused by wealth or access to natural resources need to be destroyed and that restribution take place. That “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need” be the ethic, not the rule of the market or the idea that anybody deserves more due to the fact they were born into a better position. True equality is also the idea that there are no hierarchies, no person or group of people who dominates others. Historically, domination is supported by factors such as inherited wealth, access to resources or living in a larger and dominant group. An anarchist vision wishes to turn this all on its head. Therefore, we do not accept the logic of the bourgeois democracies and we do not accept the current forms of domination that we encounter.

Anarchosyndicalism is an idea which comes from the anarchist tradition. It sees the need for workers' organizations to carry out a class struggle. But it is not limited to this idea. Historically and today, anarchosyndicalism is also the struggle for libertarian communism and a self-managed society which breaks down all hierarchies and is transformed into a society of equals.

Before the term anarchosyndicalism came into use, an idea of such a revolutionary syndicalist movement based on anarchist ideals had already long been born. The experiment of the First International failed since the anarchists rejected the idea that the state need to be transformed into a workers' state and that the Party play a role in the revolutionary movement of the workers. The split which took place showed a permanent conflict of the goals of our libertarian movements with those of the statists.

The experience of the First International showed that we need a federation of organizations whose revolution is not that of the Party and the Workers' State, but the revolution of the workers for their own self-management, in the framework of a libertarian communist society. For this reason, a number of revolutionary unions refused to join in with the Soviets and the proponents of Marxist-Leninist models in the early 20s and instead formed the International Workers Association in 1922.

The revolutionary ideas of this association are still alive today. The IWA seeks to create a model of society without the state. The statutes of the IWA say the following:

“...the goal of revolutionary unionism is not the conquest of political power, but the abolition of all state functions in the life of society. Revolutionary unionism considers that along with the disappearance of the monopoly of property, must come the disappearance of the monopoly of domination; and that no form of State, however camouflaged, can ever be an instrument for human liberation, but that on the contrary, it will always be the creator of new monopolies and new privileges.”

“Revolutionary unionism has a two-fold function: to carry on the day-to-day revolutionary struggle for the economic, social and intellectual advancement of the working class within the limits of present-day society, and to educate the masses so that they will be ready to independently manage the processes of production and distribution when the time comes to take possession of all the elements of social life.”

In the years that anarchists have fought for this ideal, we have been subject to many attacks, but also to many other tests of our convictions. The Haymarket martyrs met their deaths defiantly, upholding their ideals to the end, as did thousands of our comrades who died in struggle or at the repressive hands of the Bolsheviks, the fascists and the state. We must never forget the passion with which these heros and heroines fought to live in a society of free and equal persons.

We also must remember that along our path, we have many times been faced with temptations to engage in “real politics” or possibilist methods. Some organizations abandoned the principles of our federation to go in another direction. There have also been instances where some have felt the need to work inside the state and some organizations have split several times over this issue. Despite these trials and tribulations, the International Workers Association maintains its revolutionary, anti-authoritarian character.

We wish all working people who hold these ideals in their hearts and in their deeds a happy May Day!


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