The aim of Forward Movement is not to educate people about the notion of a Resource Based Economy as advocated by The Zeitgeist Movement and The Venus Project, but to make an intervention into those circles whom already understand and advocate a Resource Based Economy, to consider a change of our approach.
The common path of transition that TZM/TVP advocates is one of raising awareness and spreading propaganda about the end goal. While this is an important action, action limited to this is an approach is reminiscent of the approaches of the utopian socialists Saint-Simon and Fourier of late eighteenth century France. They believed that change came about as the result of new scientific discoveries, that reason would triumph as a result of education and the gradual spread of ideas, to transform the world.
Much like Jacque Fresco’s conception of circular cities or the idea of transition towns, Saint-Simon envisioned phalansteries, which would propagate until harmony would conquer the globe. He even advertised for investors, announcing in the press that he could be found in a certain cafe at the same time every week if any capitalist wished to find out about his projects (no one came).
The principles of an RBE we advocate, from the application of systems theory and proximity strategy to the rationing of resources or production directly for human needs, tend to fetch two kinds of responses from the public.
- Embrace of the ideas as plain common sense.
- Refusal to entertain the idea because there is no means nor method for its application.
Therefore, our primary focus must become the building of a network through which these common sense ideas can be applied. Since these ideas are to be applied in the economy, reorganising how the economy works, this network must have a basis in the economy as it is now:
- Access to the buildings/tools/technologies/materials/resources (aka “the means of production”) currently existing in workplaces.
- The workers (employees) whose labour directs the means of production, whom should be our primary targets for education and organisation.
By organising working people you gain both of these things. The barriers which prevent workers from implementing their common sense and the principles of a RBE are also two:
- These workers are currently subservient to their bosses decisions, which are made by the competitive, profit-driven “economic” principles of today, while the workers lack confidence to defy their bosses to apply their own common sense.
- The boss’s ownership and subsequent control over the means of production is backed by the repressive measures of the state–the police and jails.
What it requires to overcome the bosses and the state is widespread involvement and organisation, as frequently happens to varying degrees throughout capitalism’s history. Employees not only vastly outnumber capitalists (employers and investors), but for capitalists to have any power at all requires workers’ obedience. Workers only lack the power to do the common sense obvious until they organise to take the operations of the economy into their own hands.
The biggest general strikes in history have included tens of millions of workers. When such general strikes are prolonged, the question naturally arises of how us workers will meet their needs while they strike, while denying the needs of those whom we are opposing. How are we going to produce and distribute necessary products and services, food especially. Fortunately, workers are exactly the ones capable of doing the work required to meet each-others’ needs, if we organise and work together. When we do so they realise how unnecessary the bosses and union officials really are. We can manage our own work, coordinating ourselves on any scale by forming our own workplace assemblies and delegating accountable inter-workplace councils and committees. This has indeed happened to varying degrees in many historical instances, so it is entirely realistic.
Changes in peoples values advance at an accelerated rate in such times. If any one worker or minority group thereof attempts to subvert the revolution for their own selfish purposes, other workers can respond by simply refusing to cooperate with such workers. But because all workers depend on each-others’ labour to create the goods and services every other worker needs, it is ensured that workers’ cooperate with each-other in a way that is equal. Such dynamics ensure fair and collaborative socio-economic relations during and after such a revolution.
Once workers consolidate their collective control, under such self-organisation, workers will naturally wish to automate their roles to relieve themselves of labour, and reorganise their participation as former roles become obsolete. The reasons such historical instances haven’t resulted in such maximal automation is simply because they had not the time to develop their organisations to their fullest potential and direct them to such tasks. The same can be said for other aspects of a RBE, including not just automation, but even the complete replacement of all money-relations with collaborative decision-making. Though the complete abolition of money has even occurred in some instances.
When workers take power there can be no private ownership over the means of production, they can only be held in common, cooperation and inclusion becomes the norm through the necessities of their situation. In such circumstances, any suggestion of increased durability in place of obsolescence, or for dismissing laborious roles that provide no necessary or useful commodities or services, indeed any suggestion of any part of the goal of a RBE that can be implemented in the moment will be readily taken up and acted upon, for they are all simply common sense proposals.
Instead, however, most of these strikes became little more and ended with only concessions from their governments and bosses. Such concessions have improved workers’ lives tremendously and reduced the rate of their exploitation, but not to the degree of complete social liberation through revolution. Though many do become convinced through such experience of a new way forward, having demonstrated the potential for a complete break with capitalism. Even much less dramatic instances of workers having some power over their workplaces, such as more moderate actions within official union procedure, workers can gain much confidence and become more open to the idea of running the economy themselves and by a new train of thought.
If under such potentially-revolutionary circumstances there is an organisation, a group of activists within and without the workplaces, who can effectively argue that workers should continue to run the economy without the bosses, the changes could have become permanent. To be successful, this group needs not only the vision of a RBE, but also a thorough knowledge of the history or workers’ revolts and the lessons to be gained from this rich history. They need to argue, not only for the end goal, but also the way forward. They need thorough knowledge of the trials, successes and failures, of the worker’s movements of history and the present day. Armed with such information, such a group as us could aid and lead workers to victory, to triumph over capitalism, to the abolishment of classes, the state and money, to the complete creation of a RBE.
Workers’ rebellions are a normal feature of capitalism, occurring most thoroughly in times of economic crises, and such crises are a periodic feature of capitalism. Our method must therefore be to educate ourselves and others in the history of workers’ rebellions so that we can learn from these experiences, and act on this knowledge when crisis or opportunity arises. We must today organise ourselves to incite, intervene in, and be a part of these struggles for workers’ collective self-determination.
Two things above all that we must learn from this rich history are that
- We must organise and educate ourselves before the opportune moments arise, so that we are ready to act when they do. From today onwards, such a group can teach others and recruit into its ranks students, intellectuals and workers. We can support workers’ strikes and protest campaigns against government policies, to increase our profile and bonds with workers and the community, and to find interested and motivated people with which to build membership.
- Success will require our victory over the capitalist class, who never cease to sabotage the organisations of workers and will only try to derail us from our goal of our collective self-emancipation.
To learn more of this history, I will recommend the book: Revolutionary Rehearsals, by multiple authors and edited by Colin Barker. It’s five chapters cover briefly significant instances of such action and the lessons we can draw, as the histories of France in 1968, Chile in 1972-73, Portugal in 1974-75, Iran in 1979, Poland in 1980-81.
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