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Contributions to The Revolutionary Struggle, Intended To Be Discussed, Corrected, And Principally, Put Into Practice Without Delay

by Raoul Vaneigem

Chapter 2 "The ABC of Revolution"

  1. The object of sabotage and misappropriation, whether practised by the individual or the group, is the unleashing of a wildcat strike.
  2. Every wildcat strike must develop into a factory occupation.
  3. Every factory occupied must be appropriated and turned promptly to the service of revolutionaries.
  4. By choosing delegates (who are subject to instant recall and mandated to collate decisions and to oversee their implementation) the assembled strikers lay the groundwork for a radical reorganisation of society... into a society of universal self-management.

    The instant the factory is occupied

  1. Every assemblage of strikers should become an assemblage for universal self-management. All this requires is...
    1. the election of delegates subject to recall at any moment and mandated to oversee the prompt implementation of the assembly's decisions.
    2. that the assembly have provision for its self-defence
    3. that it should spread until it embraces all revolutionaries and that it should spread geographically in a search for optimum efficiency of misappropriation (i.e. to those regions possessed of both agricultural resources and primary industries).

  2. All power is vested in the assembly in that it stands for the power which every individual seeks to wield over his own everyday existence.

  3. The best guarantee against any other (and, of necessity) oppressive power (i.e. parties, unions, hierarchical organisations, groups of intellectuals or of activists... all of them embryonic states) is the prompt construction of radically new living conditions.

  4. The only way of dissolving the State is for federations of delegates meeting as councils to render it inoperative. Only co-ordination of the struggles aimed at universal self-management can eradicate the commodity system.

  5. Every discussion, every intervention must culminate in a practical proposition. A measure, once approved by the assembly, instantly becomes writ

    The prompt organisation of self-defence...

  6. The right of self-defence is the first right of an assembly for universal self-management. It consists of arming the masses, securing and increasing the conquered territory, by means of creating the conditions for all to have a better life.

  7. The revolution does not work out a plan, nor does it improvise: but it does anticipate and make preparations. This being so, it is vital that the assemblies have to hand the following information, above all else...
    1. In supply areas: the whereabouts of warehouses, depots, supermarkets and distribution outlets. The location of factories regarded as being of primary necessity and which can be automated as soon as practicable; the location of plants which are considered convertable and transformable; the location of sectors believed parasitical and to be eliminated. Redistribution of farming areas.
    2. In enemy territory: the location of barracks, police stations arsenals etc. The home addresses and itineraries of those leaders whose neutralisation would result in the disorganisation of the statist forces.
    3. In comunication and liaison zones: the whereabouts of truck, bus, train or aircraft depots, plus garages and petroleum depots... The location of telecommunications centres: local radio stations, printworks, telex outlets, offset facilities, etc.
    4. In the areas of basic necessities: water, electricity, hospital and clinic facilities, gasworks...

  8. The instant any area is occupied by revolutionaries it must be appropriated forthwith according to two incontestable principles: self-defense and free distribution of goods produced.

  9. The best way to avoid isolation is to attack. Thus one must:
    1. With an eye to the internationalist direction, create other nuclei for occupations and appropriations.
    2. Strengthen and protect liaison between revolutionary zones.
    3. Isolate the enemy and destroy his communications and use commando tactics to harass his rearguard and avoid encirclement by splitting up his forces.
    4. Disorganise the counter-revolution by rendering its principle leaders and best strategists harmless.
    5. Make use of printingworks, local radio stations and telecommunications to propagate the truth concerning the movement for universal self-management and to explain what we want and what our capabilities are. Act in such a way that the masses in each district, town or village are kept up to date with what is going on elsewhere in the country. Coordinate street fighting and the struggles in the towns and in the countryside.

  10. We should steer clear of outmoded, passive and static tactics, such as the use of barricades, mass demonstrations and student style struggles. It is of the utmost importance that we invent and experiment with new and unexpected tactics.

  11. The success of urban guerrilla tactics employed as a tactical back-up for occupied factories depends upon the speed and effectiveness of such raids. Hence the importance of small commando teams linking up what statists of every colour already refer to as the "neighbourhood hooligans", with "factory hooligans".

  12. Our aim is to thwart all violence against the movement for universal self-management and not to spread that movement by force of arms. It is more important that we should disarm the enemy rather than liquidate him physically. The more resolute and swift our action, the less blood will be spilled.

  13. The defection of some of those who would be initially hostile, into the camp of uiniversal self-management is the touchstone which will enable us to reck #1 the success of the first measures we adopt and of their advantages to all.

  14. Nevertheless, one must take into account those conditioned by hierarchy whom the habits of slavery and self-disgust, deep-rooted suppression and the taste for sacrifice push to their own destruction and to that of all the advances in the realm of actual freedom. It is for that reason that it is a good idea if, from the outset of the insurrection, internal enemies (trade union chiefs, party men, workerists, scabs) and external enemies (bosses, managers, cops, soldiers) can be neutralised.

  15. In the event of the insurrection becoming isolated or losing its impetus, self-defence requires that we analyse different forms of possible withdrawal. These will vary according to the intensity of the struggle in which we are engaged, the nature of the mistakes made (e.g. the internal disorganisation of the movement), the violence employed by the enemy, and the anticipated degree of repression, etc.

  16. We need not fear failure: instead we should feel out what is and is not possible, so that we can anticipate avert and fend off repression. "There is nothing of the revolutionary in an individual who has yet to shrug off the bondage of intellectualism and, in objective terms, veers towards the counter-revolution... someone who will accept the proletarian revolution only if it can be achieved with ease and without conflict and can be assured instantly of the backing of the proletariat world-wide and can eliminate in advance any eventuality of defeat."

  17. The men who carried out the massacres aganist the Paris Commune and the Commune of Budapest have taught us that the repression is always ruthless and that the peace of graveyard is the only promise that is ever honoured by the forces of the Statist order of things. When the confrontation reaches the stage where the repression will spare no one, let us not spare any of these cowards who merely await our defeat as their opportunity to play the executioner. We must put their residential areas to the torch, eliminate hostages and ruin the economy so that not a trace remains of that which has prevented us from becoming all is left remaining.

  18. Cherishing no illusions about that which awaits us in the event of defeat and determined, once our victory has been assured, to wreak no vengeance on former enemies, we stand ready to deploy all forms of dissuasion whilst the struggle persists... especially to destroy machinary, reserves and hostages with the aim of compelling the statist forces to retreat and disarm. Should the struggle be at a less drastic pitch, it will be to sever water, gas, electricity and fuel supply lines to bourgeois districts where the leaders reside and to dump rubbish there instead and sabotage the lifts at their residential tower blocks, etc.

  19. The voice of the masses is not easily heard above the din of battle. The ingenuity of each individual will wreak new and effective weapons for the use of the self-defence commandos. As rapidly as possible, pilfering will give way to the reconversion of whatever machinery may be available within our factories, in keeping with a rapid armament programme laid down by the universal self-managing assemblies.

  20. Among weapons suitable for immediate deployment one might predict rocket launchers made out of tubing (as tried out in Venezuela in the 1960's), ground-to-air missiles (tried out by young scientists' clubs), grenade launchers and catapults for molotov cocktails, flame-throwers, mortars, ultra-sonic equipment, lasers... A study will also be made of various methods of armour plating, converted trucks and bull-dozers, as well as bulletproof vests, gas masks (products that will counteract the effects of incapacitating weapons). Also of the possibility of dosing the enemy's water supply with LSD... etc.

  21. Research into anti-helicopter weapons: improvements to flak guns; surface to air rockets and cannons with remote control; also lasers, marksmen and stakes preventing landings.

  22. We must prepare for defence against armour by means of anti-tank silos, remote-controlled rockets, bazookas, napalm jets and mines...

  23. We must hold the roofs and cellars and dig tunnels to connect one building with another so as to facilitate the rapid and safe deployment of our self-defence commandos.

  24. We must have recourse to deception and remote-controlled weapons with a view to minimising our exposure to danger.

    Hastening the passage from subsistence conditions to living conditions

  25. We shall carry the day for sure if we can make significant for everyone the changeover from subsistence to life meaningful for everyone. This does not mean that we are going to beat the commodity system in our first engagement. It means only that the earliest measures adopted and implemented by the self-managing assemblies must render every reversion to former circumstances doubly impossible... by doing away with the old conditions and creating such advantages that no one will consent to being dispossessed of them.

  26. The primary benefits of the system of generalised self-management will of necessity have the following results:
    1. The system of trade and wage slavery will be replaced by the free distribution of goods which are necessary to the lives of every one of us.
    2. Obligatory labour will give way to the passing of productive forces under the direct control of the self-managing assemblies and by the unfettered blossoming of individual and collective creativity.
    3. An end to boredom and suppression and constraints... replaced by organisation of sympathetic social conditions and an autonomy which would empower each individual to explore himself with the assistance of all, through recognition, emancipation, multiplication and harmonisation of interests which have hitherto been stunted or sacrificed or bottled up or distorted and, all too often, diverted into destructiveness. All so that under the column of the good, history may note, once and for all, the final annihilation of the commodity system and with it, on a more positive note, the construction of a society that is radically new... albeit carried by each of us in his heart, already.

  27. From the very outset our endeavour must be to prevent any backsliding, and to burn behind us the bridges of the old world, by helping to eliminate banks, prisons, asylums, courts, police stations, administrative buildings, barracks, churches and oppressive symbols. Not forgetting dossiers, files, identity papers, hire purchase agreements and payments records, tax forms, financiers' paper-mills and the like. Gold reserves can be disposed of through the use of acqua regia (a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid).

  28. As soon as possible, we must destroy the structures of the commodity system rather than persons, and we must liquidate only those who hope to drag us back to a system of exploitation, servitude, spectacle and boredom.

  29. The end of commodity will usher in the era of GIFT in every form. Thus the assemblies for generalised self-management will see to the organisation of production and to the distribution of priority goods. They will keep tally of offers to create and produce on the one hand and of the requirements of individuals on the other. Records kept scrupulously up to date will enable every person to have an insight into available stocks, the number and allocation of orders and the whereabouts and movements of the productive forces.

  30. Factories will be reconverted and automated, or, in the case of parasitic sectors, destroyed. Almost, everywhere, small workshops for free creative labour will be at the disposal of everyone who wants to use them.

  31. Parasitic buildings (offices, schools, barracks, churches...) will, on the decision of the self-managing assemblies, generally be destroyed or, should they prefer, turned into collective granaries or warehouses or temporary dwellings or playgrounds...

  32. Supermarkets and department stores will be turned into outlets for free distribution and a study will be made in each area into the convenience of stepping up the number of small distribution outlets (for which purpose small shops and stores may well be adapted).

  33. Needs change the moment the dictatorship of the commodity is ended, for that dictatorship has never ceased misrepresenting our needs. Thus, motor vehicles become largely useless once space and time are available to all and once it is possible to move about freely to no time-able. So we must not only plan for the appearance of radically new demands and personal fantasies and unlooked for enthusiasms, but also gear everything towards the satisfaction of the same so that the only thing preventing their realisation is the momentary shortage of material means and not the social organisation.

  34. The plan to abolish the distinction between town and country requires decentralisation of the habitat (the right to be nomadic the right to build one's house on available sites), the destruction of nuisance, pollutant industries and the creation within towns of areas of tilth and stockraising. (e.g. in the Champs Elysees).

  35. The launching of the revolt will be the signal to all to withold their talents from obligatory labour. That tiny spark of passion which enabled us to bear the harsh alienation of the trade we plied for the sake of mere subsistence, will forge newer and free vocations for us. So that anyone with a love of teaching will give his lessons in the streets: anyone enamoured with cooking will have access to "communal" kitchens everywhere, each one competing with the other in the quality of his cooking. Thus will every creative disposition give rise to free artisanship and a proliferation of artefacts.

  36. Each individual will have the right to make known his criticisms and demands, his opinions and creations, desires, analyses, fantasies and problems... so that the widest possible variety can spark off the best chances of encounters, agreements and harmonisation. Printing presses, telex facilities, offset facilities, radios and televisions taken over by the assemblies will be placed at the disposal of every individual to this very end.

  37. No one will fight without reservation unless he first has learned how to live without time hanging heavily on his hands.

    Every strike must become a wildcat strike

  38. The true meaning of any strike lies in its rejection of alienated labour and of the commodity which it produces and which produces it.

  39. A strike only realises this real meaning by becoming a wildcat, i.e. by jettisoning everything that impedes the autonomy of the revolutionary workers... such as parties, unions, bosses, leaders, bureaucrats, would-be bureaucrats, scabs, workers with the minds of cops and workers with the mentality of slaves.

  40. Any pretext is valid grounds on which to unleash a wildcat strike for there is nothing that can justify the brutalisation of obligatory labour and the inhumanity of the commodity system.

  41. Revolutionary workers have no need of agitators. Such workers alone provide the impetus for the movement of general agitation.

  42. In a wildcat strike, the strikers must exercise absolute power, to the exclusion of any other.

  43. The only way of keeping outside organisations (all of them seeking to recuperate) at bay is to invest all power in the assembly of the strikers and to proceed to elect delegates charged with the co-ordination and implementation of the assembly's decisions.

  44. No matter how limited it might be, a wildcat strike must pull out all the stops to win as much support as possible, e.g. by affording glimpses of free distribution. A strike by supermarket check-out assistants would permit both display and stored goods to be distributed free of charge. Workers might distribute goods they themselves have manufactured, or goods from their stores.

    Every wildcat strike should blossom in to a factory occupation. Every factory occupation should blossom into the prompt re-adaptation of the factory

  45. Occupation of the factory speaks of the determination on the part of revolutionary workers that they should be masters of the space and time hitherto taken up by the commodity. Unless they readapt the factory to their advantage they might just as well kiss goodbye to the creativity they seek, and to their most inalienable rights.

  46. A factory which is occupied but not readapted makes a contribution to the spectacle which alleges that no one has the power to break the commodity system, in that it puts forward the argument, (the decisive argument) which alleges that bureaucracy and ideological manipulators are always necessary. But for anyone to lose sight of the wealth of technical possibilities available to us today is to render laughable that person's charges of utopianism.

  47. A factory, once occupied, should instantly be readapted to serve the interests of self-defence (manufacture of arms and armour) and of the distribution, free of charge, of any useful items which might be manufactured there.

  48. To break out of their isolation, revolutionaries have only their own creativity to rely upon. It is especially important that...
    1. Provision be made for ways in which tactical support may be lent by other workers outside the factories. For instance, printers might interfere with the papers on which they work in order to ensure that precise and correct information is printed and that the programme of the striking workers reaches the public. High school pupils might seize control of their schools and set up liaisons with the rest of the country and attack the forces of (dis)order: the inhabitants of a given region might neutralise the forces of repression and join with the striking workers in forming widespread and self managing assemblies; soldiers might seize their barracks and take their officers hostage and hand them over to the strikers... In time of revolution, there is no function that cannot be destroyed through subversion.
    2. The conflict be internationalised and that the wildcat strike spread from division to division of the same industrial complex albeit geographically scattered, and between connected or complementary firms in one country and another, and between a factory and its source of raw materials. Not merely does the readapt ion of an economically viable region make a mockery of frontiers, but it furnishes the basis upon which can be built, not just a political international, but instead an international of revolutionary practice.
    3. The guerrilla warfare of self-defence be made as coherent as is possible. Commando raids should be mounted against barracks, arms dumps and radio stations only to support and to expand the revolutionary workers' movement and not separately as is the case with terrorism, Blanquism or leftist activism: and should it prove useful, the attentat should be used selectively (against counter-revolutionary leaders with a view to rendering them harmless, or against police centres with a view to neutralising them) and never indiscriminately (e.g. bombing of railway stations, banks or public places).

  49. Over living hostages such as bosses, ministers, bishops, bankers, generals, highly-placed officials, prefects, police chiefs, etc. preference should be given to material hostages such as stocks, prototypes, gold and silver reserves, expensive machinery, electronic equipment, blast furnaces, etc.

  50. We must know how to tailor our means of pressurising and dissuasion to the nature of our demands. For instance, it is absurd to threaten, as the workers of the Slee company in Liege did (in September 1973) to blow up the plant unless they were given an interview with their members of parliament. Recourse to extreme measures should lead to radical measures (e.g. to the liquidation of the Statist enemy, or the disarming of the faces of repression, or to the evacuation of a town or entire region by the cops and the armed forces).

  51. Risks are to be avoided except for worthwhile results. If isolation threatens, better to evacuate with an eye to the future endeavours, thereby avoiding the repression and turning each tactical withdrawal to the advantage of the revolutionaries.

  52. Provision should be made for the destruction of buildings and hostages in the event of a threat of repression. Whatever cannot be readapted for the advantage of all may be destroyed: in the event of our succeeding, we can always rebuild - in the event of our being defeated we shall hasten the ruination of the commodity system.

  53. Once and for all we must renounce mass demonstrations and student-style confrontations (with the use of cobblestones, sticks and barricades). In order to protect the commodity, the cops will not hesitate to open fire. Strike commandos should very quickly achieve the disarmament and neutralisation of the statists.

  54. We must never, at any time, place any trust in the statists nor agree to any truce. Instead we must spread our movement as quickly as we are able and never lose sight of the ferocity of the bourgeois and the bureaucrats in their repressions.


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