Alexander Berkman: What is Communist Anarchism? - Production



this audio production was made in collaboration with audible anarchist chapter 30 production what about production you ask how is it to be managed we have already seen what principles must underlie the activities of the revolution if it is to be social and accomplish its aims the same principles of freedom and voluntary cooperation must also direct the reorganization of industries the first effect of the Revolution is reduced production the general strike which I have forecast as the starting point of the social revolution itself constitutes a suspension of industry the workers lay down their tools demonstrate in the streets and thus temporarily stop production but life goes on the essential needs of the people must be satisfied in that stage the revolution lives on the supplies already at hand but to exhaust those supplies would be disastrous the situation rests in the hands of labour the immediate resumption of Industry is imperative the organised agriculture and industrial proletariat takes possession of the land factories shops mines and mills most energetic application is now the order of the day it should be clearly understood that the social revolution necessitates more intensive production than under capitalism in order to supply the needs of the large masses who till then had lived in penury this greater production can be achieved only by the workers having previously prepared themselves for the new situation familiarity with the processes of Industry knowledge of the sources of supply and determination to succeed will accomplish the task the enthusiasm generated by the revolution the energies liberated and the inventiveness stimulated I it must be given full freedom and scope to find creative channels revolution always wakens a high degree of responsibility together with the new atmosphere of liberty and brotherhood it creates the realization that hard work and severe self-discipline are necessary to bring production up to the requirements of consumption on the other hand the new situation will greatly simplify the present very complex problems of industry for you must consider that capitalism because of its competitive character and contradictory financial and commercial interests involves many intricate and perplexing issues which would be entirely eliminated by the abolition of the conditions today questions of wage scales and selling prices there are requirements of existing markets and hunt for new ones the scarcity of capital for larger operations and heavy interest to be paid on it new investments the effects of speculation and monopoly and a score of related problems which worry the capitalists and make industry such a difficult and cumbersome Network today would all disappear at present these require diverse departments of study and highly trained men to keep unraveling the tangled skein of plutocratic cross purposes many specialists to calculate the actualities and possibilities of profit and loss and a large force of aids to help steer the industrial ship between the perilous rocks which beset the chaotic course of capitalist competition national and international all this would be automatically done away with by the socialization of Industry and the termination of the competitive system and thereby the problems of production will be immensely lightened the complexity of capitalist in industry need therefore inspire no undue fear for the future those who talk of labor not being equal to manage quote modern industry fail to take into account the factors referred to above the industrial labyrinth will turn out to be far less formidable on the day of the social reconstruction in passing it may be mentioned that all the other phases of life would also be very much simplified as a result of the indicated changes various present-day habits customs compulsory and unwholesome modes of living would naturally fall into disuse furthermore it must be considered that the task of increased production would be enormous Lee facilitated by the addition to the ranks of labor of vast numbers whom the altered economic conditions will liberate for work recent statistics show that in 1920 there were in the United States over 41 million persons of both sexes engaged in gainful occupations out of a total population of over 105 million out of those 41 million only 26 million were actually employed in the industries including transportation and agriculture the balance of 15 million consisting mostly of persons engaged in trade of commercial travelers advertisers and other middlemen of the present system in other words 15 million people would be released for useful work by a revolution in the United States a similar situation proportionate to population would develop in other countries the greater production necessitated by the social revolution would therefore have an additional army of many millions of purse at its disposal the systemic incorporation of those millions into industry and agriculture aided by modern scientific methods of organization and production will go a long way toward helping solve the problems of supply capitalist production is for profit more labor is used today to sell things than to produce them the social revolution reorganizes the industries on the basis of the needs of the populace essential needs come first naturally food clothing and shelter these are the primal requirements of man the first step in this direction is the ascertaining of the available supply of provisions and other commodities the labor associations in every city and community take this work in hand for the purpose of equitable distribution workers committees in every street and district assumed charge cooperating with similar committees in the city and state and federating their efforts throughout the country by means of general councils of producers and consumers great events and upheavals bring to the fore the most active and energetic elements social revolution will crystallize the class-conscious labor ranks by whatever name they will be known as industrial unions revolutionary syndicate syndicate bodies cooperative associations leagues of producers and consumers they will represent the most enlightened and advanced part of Labor the organized workers aware of their aims and how to attain them it is they who will be the moving spirit of the revolution with the aid of industrial machinery and by scientific cultivation of the land and freed for monopoly the revolution must first supply the elemental wanes of society in farming and gardening intense cultivation and modern methods have made us practically independent of natural soil quality and climate to a very considerable extent man now makes his own soil and his own climate thanks to the achievements of chemistry exotic fruits can be raised in the north to be supplied to the warm south as is being done in France science is the wizard who enables man to master all difficulties and overcome all obstacles the future liberated from the Incubus of the profitsystem and enriched by the work of those millions of non producers today holds the greatest welfare for society that future must be the objective point of the social revolution its motto bread and wellbeing for all first bread then will being and luxury even luxury for luxury is a deep felt need of man and in need of his physical as of his spiritual being intense application to this purpose must be the continuous effort of the revolution not something to be postponed for a distant day but of immediate practice the revolution must strive to enable every community to sustain itself to become materially independent no country should have to rely on outside help or exploit colonies for its support that is the way of capitalism the aim of anarchism on the contrary is material independence not only for the individual but for every community this means gradual decentralization instead of centralization even under capitalism we see the decentralization tent the manifest itself in spite of the essentially central istic character of the present-day industrial system countries which were before entirely dependent on foreign manufacture as Germany in the last quarter of the 19th century later in Italy in Japan and now in Hungary Czechoslovakia etc are gradually emancipating themselves industrially working their own natural resources building their own factories and mills and attaining economic independence from other lands International Finance does not welcome this development and tries its utmost to retard its progress because it is more profitable for the Morgans and Rockefellers to keep such countries as Mexico China India Ireland or Egypt industrial industrially backward in order to exploit their natural resources and at the same time be assured of the foreign markets for overproduction at home the governments of the great financier and the Lords of Industry help them secure those for natural resources and markets even at the point of the bayonet thus Great Britain by force of arms compels China to permit English opium to poison the Chinese at a good profit and exploits every means to dispose in that country the greater part of its textile product products for the same reason Egypt India Ireland and other dependencies and colonies are not permitted to develop their home industries in short capitalism seeks centralization but a free country needs decentralization independence not only political but also industrial and economic Russia strikingly illustrates how imperative economic and dependence is particularly to the social revolution for years following the October upheaval the Bolshevik government concentrated its efforts on currying favor with bourgeois governments for quote recognition and inviting foreign capitalists to help exploit the resources of Russia but Capital afraid to make large investments under the insecure conditions of the dictatorship failed to respond with any degree of enthusiasm meanwhile Russia was approaching economic breakdown the situation finally compelled the Bolsheviki to understand that the country must depend upon her own efforts for maintenance Russia began to look around for means to help herself and thereby she acquired greater self confidence in her own abilities learned to exercise self-reliance and initiative and started to develop her own industries a slow and painful process but a wholesome necessity which will ultimately make Russia economically self-supporting in and independent the social revolution in any given country must from the very first determine to make itself self-supporting it must help itself this principle of self-help is not to be understood as a lack of solidarity with other lands on the contrary mutual aid and cooperation between countries as among individuals can exist only on the basis of equality among equals dependence is the very reverse of it should social revolution take place in several countries at the same time in France and Germany for instance then joint effort would be a matter of course and would make the task of revolutionary reorganization much easier fortunately the workers are learning to understand that their cause is international the organization of labor is now developing beyond national boundaries it is hope that the time is not far away when the entire proletariat of Europe may combine in a general strike which is to be the prelude to the social revolution that is emphatically a consummation to be striven for with the greatest earnestness but at the same time the probability is not to be discounted that the revolution may break out in one country sooner than another let us say in France earlier than in Germany and in such a case it would become imperative for France not to wait for possible aid from outside but to immediately exert her energies to help herself to supply the most essential needs for of her people by her own efforts every country and revolution must seek to achieve agricultural independence no less than political industrial self-help no less than agricultural this process is going on to a certain extent even under capitalism it should be one of the main objects of the social revolution modern methods make it possible the manufacturer of watches and clocks for example was formerly a monopoly of Switzerland and is now being carried on in every country production of silk previously limited to France is among the greatest industries of various countries today Italy without so sources of coal or iron constructs steel clad ships Switzerland no richer also makes them decentralization will cure Society of many evils of the centralized principle politically the centralization means freedom industrially materially independence it implies security and well-being for small communities individually that results in manhood and Liberty equally important to the social revelry as in independence from foreign lands is decentralization within the country itself internal decentralization means making the larger regions even every community so far as possible self-supporting in his very illuminating and suggestive work fields factories and workshops Peter Kropotkin has convincingly shown how a city like Paris even now almost exclusively commercial could raise enough food in its own environment abundantly by using modern agricultural machinery an intensive cultivation London and New York could subsist entirely upon the products raised in their own immediate vicinity it is a face that quote our means of obtaining from the soil whatever we Wayne under any climate and upon any soil have lately been improved at such a rate that we cannot foresee yet what is the limit of productivity of a few acres of land the limit vanishes in proportion to our better study of the subject and every year makes it vanish further and further from our sight end quote when the social revolution begins in any land its foreign commerce stops the importation of raw materials and finished products is suspended the country may even be blockaded by the bourgeois governments as was the case with Russia thus the revolution is compelled to become self-supporting and provide for its own wanes even various parts of the same country may have to face such an eventuality they would have to produce what they need within their own area by their own efforts only decentralization could solve this problem the country would have to reorganize its activities in such a manner as to be able to feed itself it would have to revert to production on a small scale to home industry and to intensive agriculture and horticulture man's initiative freed by the Revolution and his wits sharpened by necessity will rise to the situation it must therefore be clearly understood that it would be disastrous to the interests of the revolution to suppress or interfere with the small-scale industries which are now practiced to such a great extent in various European countries numerous articles of everyday use are produced by the peasants of continental Europe during their leisure winter hours those home manufacturers total up tremendous figures to fill a great need it would be most harmful to the revolution to destroy them as did Russia so foolishly did in her mad Bolshevik passion for centralization when a country and revolution is attacked by foreign governments when it is blockaded and deprived of imports when its large scale industries threatened to break down or the railroads actually do break down then it is just the small home industries which become the vital nerve of economic life they alone can feed and save the revolution moreover such home industries are not only a potent economic factor they are also of the greatest social value they serve to cultivate friendly intercourse between the farm and the city bringing the two into closer more solidary contact in face the home industries themselves are an expression of a most wholesome social spirit which from the earliest times has manifested itself in village gatherings in communal efforts in folk dance and song this normal and healthy tendency in its various aspects should be encouraged and stimulated by the revolution for the greater we love the community the rule of industrial decentralization in the revolution is unfortunately too little appreciated even in progressive labor ranks there's a dangerous tendency to ignore or minimize its importance most people still live in the thraldom of Marx II and dogma that centralization is quote more efficient and economical they closed their eyes to the face that the alleged economy is achieved at the cost of the workers life and limb that the efficiency degrades him to a mere Industrial cog deadens his soul and kills his body furthermore in the system of centralization the administration of industry becomes constantly merged in fewer hands producing a powerful bureaucracy of industrial overlords it would indeed be the sheerest irony if the revolution were to aim at such a result it would mean the creation of a new master class the revolution can accomplish the emancipation of labor only by gradual decentralization by developing the individual worker into a more conscious and determining factor in the processes of Industry by making him the impulse whence the proceeds of all industrial and social activity the deep significance of social revolution lies in the abolition of the mastery of man over man putting in its place the management of things only thus can be achieved industrial and social freedom are you sure it would work you demand I am sure of this if that will not work nothing else will the plan I've outlined is a free communism a life of voluntary cooperation and equal sharing there is no other way of securing economic equality which alone is Liberty any other system must lead back the capitalism it is likely of course that a country and social revolution may try various economic experiments a limited capitalism might be introduced in one part of the land or collectivism in another but collectivism is only another form of the wage system and would speedily tend to become capitalism of the present day for collectivism begins by a abolishing private ownership of the means of production and immediately reverses itself by returning to the system of remuneration according to work performed which means the reintroduction of inequality man learns by doing the social revolution in different countries and regions will probably try out different methods and by practical experience learn the best way the revolution is at the same time the opportunity and justification for it I am NOT attempting to prophesy what this or that country is going to do what particular course that will follow nor do I presume to dictate the future to prescribe its mode of conduct my purpose is to suggest in broad outline the principles which must animate the revolution the general lines of action it should follow if it is to accomplish its aim the reconstruction of society on a foundation of freedom and equality we know that previous revolutions for the most part failed in their objectives they degenerate into dictatorship and despotism and thus reestablished the old institutions of oppression and exploitation we know it from past and recent history we therefore draw the conclusion that the old way will not do a new one must be tried in the coming social revolution what new way the only one that is known to man the way of liberty and equality the way of free communism of anarchy this has been a production of audible anarchist you can find more audible anarchist on YouTube you




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