Networking the Struggles
This our first manifesto focuses on drawing the outlines of the networked movement that we wish to be a part of. The struggle for a new world does not need The One Organization, neither do we wish to take that place. Rather, the creation of a successful movement needs to be open and inclusive. Below, we put forward a few aspects that we think need to be a part of this movement.
Narratives & Communication
The Narrative of Sweden
We need a narrative about the world which puts our struggles into context. Unfortunately the Alliance (a bloc of right-wing parties in Sweden) has succeeded with this – a story about economy, freedom and employment with an apparent coherence and where the different parts strengthen each other. The Social Democrats and the left have chosen an impossible path where they have not succeeded – not even tried – to create their own counter-narrative, but instead largely accepted the right’s worldview. Additionally, they have combined this with politics which have mostly been a pale, somewhat softer version of the right’s.
The Alliance has unthreatened been able to use the double face of liberalism – they have exploited people’s genuine yearning for freedom and at the same time been carried by the strong authoritarian wave shown both by the advance of truncheon liberalism and the election results of the Sweden Democrats (a right-wing populist party not part of the Alliance which entered the parliament in September 2010). The Social Democrats have not been able to learn from their mistakes and cease with their betrayal against their voters, have not been able to present any new visions – and have fared worse in the election than in nearly a hundred years.
To admit the need for a counter-narrative is about taking clarity seriously, to actually try to not only reach people but understand them and see how their worldviews can be fudged together with your own. We need to create new, simple but powerful concepts which can lay the foundation for a widespread, common view of how the world works and what we want to do.
Information Channels or Communication Channels?
The total dominance of bourgeois media has been pointed out as one of the main reasons the left has lost two elections in a row. We think it is an important piece of the puzzle, but we must also admit that the problem with the right-wing tendency is not a lack of information or knowledge. Rather than just creating one-way information channels, we must create new communities, places and contexts where information can form. We need magazines, blogs and jungle drums where our thoughts can have a chance to be formulated, discussed and modified on their own terms, without always standing in relation to the current power’s truth. To create communication channels is about creating new kinds of relations and communities which challenge the system, it’s about giving people power over the problem formulations. The main purpose of a magazine is not to transport bits of information to unknowing readers – it’s to create a platform for discussion in lunch rooms and by the breakfast tables.
With the constructive building we advocate – of solidarity and commons – comes a right to self-defence. What we have built will be attacked by those profiting from the current injustices of the world. To defend what we have achieved is an obvious neccesity if we do not want to let the mighty take everything away from us – and in extension coming generations, which will get an even worse starting point than what we’ve had. The developed countries’ large software companies do not accept being out-competed by free alternatives, and therefore exert pressure on poor countries which choose open source instead of Microsoft or Apple. The employers do not accept solidarity between the employed, but do everything to break it with manpower companies and differences in salaries. The struggle at workplaces is central, for raised salaries, for better working conditions, through strikes, blockades, subordination, evasion and other methods we have not yet invented. This struggle creates not only breathing space for us and new affinity in-between people. It also lessens the strength of capitalism and can in that way hurry the development of new alternative models.
Becoming common is about evaluating the real communities and expressions of affinity which we see around us. True affinity is the opposite to the false collective categories of racists and sexists. True affinity is about relations we actively choose. The joy in a meet which survives its expected end. True affinity is about seeing the political in friendship. Be loyal to your fellow workers. Set good examples which are followed by others and which builds trust to our collective strength. Smile at others and see how it infects. Not making a mess at the fast-food restaurant, thinking that some low-paid worker gets to clean. On the contrary: it is to live according to a revolting ethic which means that we acknowledge that how we treat others matters. That there is no revolutionary end goal, just a continuous building of community and defence of that which is good in the world against that which threatens it.
Simply communisation. To stop thinking of relations in economical terms and start appreciating the immeasurable and invaluable.
Commons are places for free production, between both private and public ownership. We are tired of the eternal tug-of-war between capitalism and socialism – two top-down ways of production which have their best years behind them. Commons makes possible and encourages voluntary production – and in that way lays the foundation to decreasing or even abolishing imposed labour.
Commons are found everywhere today. Our task is to realize their importance, evaluate them and work towards them being multiplied, improved and strengthened so that they can seriously challenge the present capitalist and socialist models.
Clear examples of commons are Wikipedia and the operative system Linux, which are created by volunteers who cooperate on a global scale. There are also examples of commons outside of the internet. Friskis & Svettis (1) is based on a logic of the commons – a popular movement of voluntary instructors that makes it possible to keep the prices down.
Cultural associations which engage themselves voluntarily to arrange events for the general public, free bicycle workshops where we can help each other fix our bikes and ecological farms where volunteers living in cities spend their vacations digging potatoes – all those are examples of commons. There are more commons on the internet because the electronic building material is almost free. Our task is to examine how we can spread this model through the remaining service sector and in the industry, and above all see how the positive tendencies can be strengthened against the constant threats posed by commercialization and nationalization.