The First and last class

It’s not enough to merely end the alienation of the worker from the product of their labor. We must also seek to end the alienation of the masses from the systems that organize society, what is commonly called: “government.”

Because, as you all should know by now: capitalist class distinctions are not the first class system, not even the second, or the third. But so many miss the fact that the capitalist class system is also not the only class system we are subjected to today. We are all still separated by the first and oldest class system conceived by human society: the system of the governor and the governed.

This system was created the moment the state was, the moment the first headman set himself up above the rest of his clan, the moment the first king was crowned. In that moment, the moment “the state” was created, vast majority of humankind was alienated from government, where previously the community as a whole was engaged in the organization of society. Even Lenin wrote of this when he pointed to the fact that the state is not a part of society, but held above it.

So long as government is a state, so long as the masses are subjected to it instead of being engaged as a part of it. So long as such a system exists, we have not freed ourselves from the cancer of class.

This is what we seek to accomplish through the formation of municipal assemblies, where the people of that municipality create the policies, and choose the councilors to carry administer that policy, through face-to-face direct democracy and consensus. This makes every member of society an active participant in government. As Murray Bookchin described it: It makes them true citizens in the proper meaning of that word. Because it makes them the government instead of being subjected to the government which is held above them.

Obviously this is not something which can simply happen overnight. No governmental system has ever been toppled while at the hight of it’s power. Once again, Bookchin said it best in his essay “Libertarian Municipalism: The New Municipal Agenda,” where he said:

“If the great revolutions of the past provide us with examples of how so major a shift is possible, it would be well to remember that seemingly all-powerful monarchies that the republics replaced two centuries ago were so denuded of power that they crumbled rather than ‘fell,’ much as a mummified corpse turns to dust after it has been suddenly exposed to air.”

Yes, the U.S. has begun to decline, but only just. It is at the peak, and has only begun to move towards the downward slope. If we wish to speed that process along, and also avoid disasters like civil war, famine, and general disorder, then we must build a confederated network of interdependent municipal assemblies. These assemblies can shift power from the hands of the state-government, because they shift the community’s obedience to state power away from those systems, and instead empowers the assemblies in it’s place. This will hasten the diminishing of the state’s power while growing a system to immediately take it’s place. All the while providing the people with their needs and wants in a way that the state never could.

It’s easy to confuse this decentralization of power with the promotion of “independence” of communities and a general parochialism. But it is not this at all. As I said earlier: we must garner a true interdependance between all municipalities through a confederated system. Again I turn to Murray Bookchin in his essay “The Meaning of Confederalism:”

“If many pragmatic people are blind to the importance of decentralism, many in the ecology movement tend to ignore very real problems with “localism” – problems that are no less troubling than the problems raised by a globalism that fosters a total interlocking of economic and political life on a worldwide basis. Without such wholistic cultural and political changes as I have advocated, notions of decentralism that emphasize localist isolation and a degree of self- sufficiency may lead to cultural parochialism and chauvinism. Parochialism can lead to problems that are as serious as a “global” mentality that overlooks the uniqueness of cultures, the peculiarities of ecosystems and ecoregions, and the need for a humanly scaled community life that makes a participatory democracy possible. This is no minor issue today, in an ecology movement that tends to swing toward very well-meaning but rather naive extremes. I cannot repeat too emphatically that we must find a way of sharing the world with other humans and with nonhuman forms of life, a view that is often difficult to attain in overly “self-sufficient” communities. Much as I respect the intentions of those who advocate local self-reliance and self-sustainabilty, these concepts can be highly misleading. I can certainly agree with David Morris of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, for example, that if a community can produce the things it needs, it should probably do so. But self-sustaining communities cannot produce all the things they need – unless it involves a return to a back-breaking way of village life that historically often prematurely aged its men and women with hard work and allowed them very little time for political life beyond the immediate confines of the community itself.”

Individual people are not islands unto themselves. We all need the support of a community to survive and especially to enjoy a modern comfortable and safe life. Communities are no different; in order for us all to enjoy the full benefits of modern civilization, and to truly work to create a sustainable socio-economic system, we must recognize that no community can operate as a fully independent entity. We must become a community of communities, a living organic system composed of true citizens engaging in their own organization and fully embodying the old socialist adage: “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”