Connexions Resource Centre:
Selected Manifestos – Political Statements
Programs – Visions
- This is a selection of radical and progressive political manifestos, statements, programs and visions dating from 1649 to the present. For additional related articles and books, check the Connexions Library Subject Index, especially under topics such as
radical political theory,
and socialism, or use the Library Search Box in the menu on the left. You can read the full document by clicking on the titles in the list, or you can view selected excerpts lower down on this page. See the bottom of the page for selection criteria and links to additional documents.
- An Agreement of the Free People of England
The manifesto of the Levellers (1649).
Thomas Paine’s call for and justification of revolution (1776).
of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Approved by the National Assemby of France (1789).
Rights of Man
Thomas Paine’s defense of the French Revolution (1792).
- The People’s Petition
The Chartists (Great Britain, 1838).
- The People’s Charter
The Chartists (Great Britain, 1839).
Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels (1848).
Address of the International Workingmen’s Association
Karl Marxs speech to the founding congress of the First International (1864).
Workingmen’s Association General Rules
Rules of the First International, adopted at its founding congress in 1864.
- Manifesto of the Paris Commune
of the Gotha Programme
Karl Marx’s critique of the programme adopted by congress to unite the two German socialist parties in 1875.
See also Marx's Letter to Bracke.
- Manifesto of the Socialist League
William Morris & E Belfort Bax. (Great Britain, 1885).
- Social Reform or Revolution
Rosa Luxemburg, (Germany, 1900).
- Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal
Peter Kropotkin (1901).
of the Socialist Party of Canada
- Anarchism: What It Really Stands For
Emma Goldman (1910).
- Our Program and the Political Situation
Text of Rosa Luxemburg’s speech to the founding conference of the Communist Party of Germany. (1918).
- Manifesto of the Communist International to the Workers of the World
Written by Leon Trotsky. Adopted by the founding congress of the Third International (Comintern) (March 1919).
- The Platform of the Communist International
Adopted by the founding congress of the Third International. (March 1919).
- Manifesto of the Second Congress of the Third International
- Theses on the Fundamental Tasks of the Communist International
- The Workers Opposition
Alexandra Kollonati (Soviet Union, 1921).
- The Organisational Structure of the Communist Parties, the Methods and Content of Their Work: Theses
Adopted at the Third Congress of the Communist International (1921).
Andre Breton (France, 1924).
Nestor Makno (1926).
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation Programme (Canada, 1933).
Transitional Programme: The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International.
(Leon Trotsky, 1938).
- The Program of the Minority
Statement of the minority in the (U.S.) Workers Party, by C.L.R. James (J.R. Johnson), Raya Dunayevsksa (F. Forrest), et al. (USA, May 1946).
- The Freedom Charter
Adopted at the Kliptown Congress of the African National Congress (June, 1955).
Winnipeg Declaration of Principles
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (Canada, 1956).
- Preliminaries Toward Defining a Unitary Revolutionary Program
(Pierre Canjuers, Guy Debord, France, 1960).
- Perspective for Conscious Change in Everyday Life
Guy Debord (France, 1961).
Port Huron Statement
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) (USA, 1962).
- The Arusha Declaration
Written by Julius Nyerere for the Tanganyika African National Union (February 1967).
- As We See It
Solidarity London (Great Britain, 1967). See also: As We Don't See It
- May 1968 Graffiti
Waffle Manifesto: For an Independent Socialist Canada
League Founding Statement
Political Statement of the Libertarian Socialist Collective
- The Green Book
Report of the Politico-Military Strategy Commission to the African National Congress National Executive Committee (1979).
Libertarian Socialist Organisation (Australia, 1980).
- We Can Change the World
David Stratman (USA 1991).
- Solidarity (US) Founding Statement
Do We Do Now? Building a Social Movement in the Aftermath of Free Trade
Connexions (Canada, 1989).
Better World: Program of the Worker-communist Party of Iran
- The Joy of Revolution
Ken Knabb (USA, 1997).
- Walking We Ask Questions
Notes from Nowhere Collective. From the book We Are Everywhere (USA, 2004).
of the Third Camp Against U.S. Militarism and Islamic Terrorism
for Marxist-Humanist Perspectives 2006 - 2007
News & Letters (USA, 2007).
- Reimagining Society Project
Z Communications’ project to invite participants to submit their visions, ideas, and strategies for transforming society.
Related Topics in the Connexions Library
Class Conflict/Class Struggle
Programs, Strategies, Manifestos
Radical Political Thought
Strategies for Social Change
Theory and Analysis
Common Sense (excerpt)
- SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.
- Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him, out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.
Sense – Tom Paine 1776.
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (excerpt)
- The representatives of the French people, organized as a National Assembly, believing that the ignorance, neglect, or contempt of the rights of man are the sole cause of public calamities and of the corruption of governments, have determined to set forth in a solemn declaration the natural, unalienable, and sacred rights of man, in order that this declaration, being constantly before all the members of the Social body, shall remind them continually of their rights and duties; in order that the acts of the legislative power, as well as those of the executive power, may be compared at any moment with the objects and purposes of all political institutions and may thus be more respected, and, lastly, in order that the grievances of the citizens, based hereafter upon simple and incontestable principles, shall tend to the maintenance of the constitution and redound to the happiness of all.
- Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen – National Assemby of France (1789).
The Rights of Man (excerpt)
- That men should take up arms and spend their lives and fortunes, not to maintain their rights, but to maintain they have not rights, is an entirely new species of discovery, and suited to the paradoxical genius of Mr. Burke.
- The method which Mr. Burke takes to prove that the people of England have no such rights, and that such rights do not now exist in the nation, either in whole or in part, or anywhere at all, is of the same marvellous and monstrous kind with what he has already said; for his arguments are that the persons, or the generation of persons, in whom they did exist, are dead, and with them the right is dead also. To prove this, he quotes a declaration made by Parliament about a hundred years ago, to William and Mary, in these words: “The Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, do, in the name of the people aforesaid” (meaning the people of England then living) “most humbly and faithfully submit themselves, their heirs and posterities, for EVER.” ...
- I reply --
- There never did, there never will, and there never can, exist a Parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possessed of the right or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the “end of time,” or of commanding for ever how the world shall be governed, or who shall govern it; and therefore all such clauses, acts or declarations by which the makers of them attempt to do what they have neither the right nor the power to do, nor the power to execute, are in themselves null and void. Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself in all cases as the age and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies. Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow. The Parliament or the people of 1688, or of any other period, had no more right to dispose of the people of the present day, or to bind or to control them in any shape whatever, than the parliament or the people of the present day have to dispose of, bind or control those who are to live a hundred or a thousand years hence.
Rights of Man – Thomas Paine’s defense of the French Revolution (1792).
People’s Petition (excerpt)
- The energies of a mighty kingdom have been wasted in building up the power of selfish and ignorant men, and its resources squandered for their aggrandisement.
- The good of a party has been advanced to the sacrifice of the good of the nation; the few have governed for the interest of the few, while the interest of the many has been neglected, or insolently and tyrannously trampled upon....
- When the State calls for defenders, when it calls for money, no consideration of poverty or ignorance can be pleaded in refusal or delay of the call.
- Required as we are, universally, to support and obey the laws, nature and reason entitle us to demand, that in the making of the laws, the universal voice shall be implicitly listened to.
- We perform the duties of freemen; we must have the privileges of freemen.
- The People’s Petition – The Chartists (Great Britain, 1838).
The People’s Charter (excerpt)
- Being an Outline of an Act to provide for the just Representation of the People of Great Britain and Ireland in the Commons’ House of Parliament: embracing the Principles of Universal Suffrage, no Property Qualification, Annual Parliaments, Equal Representation, Payment of Members, and Vote by Ballot....
- to insure, in as far as it is best possible by human forethought and wisdom, the just government of the people, it is necessary to subject those who have the power of making the laws, to a wholesome and strict responsibility to those whose duty it is to obey them when made...
- this responsibility is best enforced through the instrumentality of a body which emanates directly from, and is itself immediately subject to, the whole people, and which completely represents their feelings and their interests.
- The People’s Charter – The Chartists (Great Britain, 1839).
The Communist Manifesto (excerpt)
- The Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.
- In all these movements, they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time.
- Finally, they labour everywhere for the union and agreement of the democratic parties of all countries.
- The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels (1848).
Inaugural Address of the International Working Men’s Association (excerpt)
- The lords of the land and the lords of capital will always use their political privileges for the defense and perpetuation of their economic monopolies. So far from promoting, they will continue to lay every possible impediment in the way of the emancipation of labour... To conquer political power has, therefore, become the great duty of the working classes. They seem to have comprehended this, for in England, Germany, Italy, and France, there have taken place simultaneous revivals, and simultaneous efforts are being made at the political organization of the workingmen’s party.
- One element of success they possess – numbers; but numbers weigh in the balance only if united by combination and led by knowledge. Past experience has shown how disregard of that bond of brotherhood which ought to exist between the workmen of different countries, and incite them to stand firmly by each other in all their struggles for emancipation, will be chastised by the common discomfiture of their incoherent efforts. This thought prompted the workingmen of different countries assembled on September 28, 1864, in public meeting at St. Martin’s Hall, to found the International Association.
- Inaugural Address of the International Workingmen’s Association – Karl Marxs speech to the founding congress of the First International (1864).
The International Workingmen’s Association General Rules (excerpt)
- That the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves, that the struggle for the emancipation of the working classes means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all class rule;
- That the economical subjection of the man of labour to the monopolizer of the means of labor – that is, the source of life – lies at the bottom of servitude in all its forms, of all social misery, mental degradation, and political dependence;
- That the economical emancipation of the working classes is therefore the great end to which every political movement ought to be subordinate as a means;
- That all efforts aiming at the great end hitherto failed from the want of solidarity between the manifold divisions of labour in each country, and from the absence of a fraternal bond of union between the working classes of different countries;
- That the emancipation of labour is neither a local nor a national, but a social problem, embracing all countries in which modern society exists, and depending for its solution on the concurrence, practical and theoretical, of the most advanced countries;
- International Workingmen’s General Rules – Rules of the First International, adopted at its founding congress in 1864.
Manifesto of the Paris Commune (excerpt)
- Once again, Paris works and suffers for all of France, for whom it prepares, through its combats and sacrifices, the intellectual, moral, administrative and economic regeneration, its glory and prosperity.
- What does it ask for?
- The recognition and consolidation of the Republic, the only form of government compatible with the rights of the people and the normal and free development of society.
- The absolute autonomy of the Commune extended to all localities in France and assuring to each one its full rights, and to every Frenchman the full exercise of his faculties and abilities as man, citizen and producer.
- The only limit to the autonomy of the Commune should be the equal right to autonomy for all communes adhering to the contract, whose association shall insure French unity.
- The inherent rights of the Commune are:
- The vote on communal budgets, receipts and expenses; the fixing and distribution of taxes; the direction of public services; the organization of its magistracy, internal police and education; the administration of goods belonging to the Commune.
- The choice by election or competition of magistrates and communal functionaries of all orders, as well as the permanent right of control and revocation.
- The absolute guarantee of individual freedom and freedom of conscience.
- The permanent intervention of citizens in communal affairs by the free manifestation of their ideas, the free defense of their interests, with guarantees given for these manifestations by the Commune, which alone is charged with overseeing and assuring the free and fair exercise of the right to gather and publicize.
- The organization of urban defense and the National Guard, which elects its chiefs and alone watches over the maintenance of order in the city.
- Manifesto of the Paris Commune – (France, 1871).
Critique of the Gotha Program (excerpt)
- Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and its cultural development conditioned thereby.
- In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labour, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labour, has vanished; after labour has become not only a means of life but life’s prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly – only then then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!
of the Gotha Programme – Karl Marx’s critique of the programme adopted by congress to unite the two German socialist parties in 1875.
Letter to Bracke (excerpt)
- Every step of real movement is more important than a dozen programmes. If, therefore, it was not possible – and the conditions of the item did not permit it – to go beyond the Eisenach programme, one should simply have concluded an agreement for action against the common enemy. But by drawing up a programme of principles (instead of postponing this until it has been prepared for by a considerable period of common activity) one sets up before the whole world landmarks by which it measures the level of the Party movement.
- Marx's Letter to Bracke.
Manifesto of the Socialist League (excerpt)
- The workers, although they produce all the wealth of society, have no control over its production or distribution: the people, who are the only really organic part of society, are treated as a mere appendage to capital – as a part of its machinery. This must be altered from the foundation: the land, the capital, the machinery, factories, workshops, stores, means of transit, mines, banking, all means of production and distribution of wealth, must be declared and treated as the common property of all. Every man will then receive the full value of his labour, without deduction for the profit of a master, and as all will have to work, and the waste now incurred by the pursuit of profit will be at an end, the amount of labour necessary for every individual to perform in order to carry on the essential work of the world will be reduced to something like two or three hours daily; so that every one will have abundant leisure for following intellectual or other pursuits congenial to his nature.
- This change in the method of production and distribution would enable every one to live decently, and free from the sordid anxieties for daily livelihood which at present weigh so heavily on the greatest part of mankind.
- But, moreover, men’s social and moral relations would be seriously modified by this gain of economical freedom, and by the collapse of the superstitions, moral and other, which necessarily accompany a state of economical slavery: the test of duty would now rest on the fulfilment of clear and well-defined obligations to the community rather than on the moulding of the individual character and actions to some preconceived standard outside social responsibilities.
- Our modern bourgeois property-marriage, maintained as it is by its necessary complement, universal venal prostitution, would give place to kindly and human relations between the sexes.
- Education freed from the trammels of commercialism on the one hand and superstition on the other, would become a reasonable drawing out of men’s varied faculties in order to fit them for a life of social intercourse and happiness; for mere work would no longer be proposed as the end of life, but happiness for each and all.
- Only be such fundamental changes in the life of man, only by the transformation of Civilisation into Socialism, can those miseries of the world before mentioned be amended.
- Manifesto of the Socialist League – William Morris & E Belfort Bax. (Great Britain, 1885).
Social Reform or Revolution (excerpt)
- It is contrary to history to represent work for reforms as a long-drawn out revolution and revolution as a condensed series of reforms. A social transformation and a legislative reform do not differ according to their duration but according to their content. The secret of historic change through the utilisation of political power resides precisely in the transformation of simple quantitative modification into a new quality, or to speak more concretely, in the passage of an historic period from one given form of society to another.
- That is why people who pronounce themselves in favour of the method of legislative reform in place and in contradistinction to the conquest of political power and social revolution, do not really choose a more tranquil, calmer and slower road to the same goal, but a different goal. Instead of taking a stand for the establishment of a new society they take a stand for surface modifications of the old society. If we follow the political conceptions of revisionism, we arrive at the same conclusion that is reached when we follow the economic theories of revisionism. Our program becomes not the realisation of socialism, but the reform of capitalism; not the suppression of the wage labour system but the diminution of exploitation, that is, the suppression of the abuses of capitalism instead of suppression of capitalism itself.
- Does the reciprocal role of legislative reform and revolution apply only to the class struggle of the past? It is possible that now, as a result of the development of the bourgeois juridical system, the function of moving society from one historic phase to another belongs to legislative reform and that the conquest of State power by the proletariat has really become “an empty phrase,” as Bernstein puts it?
- The very opposite is true. What distinguishes bourgeois society from other class societies – from ancient society and from the social order of the Middle Ages? Precisely the fact that class domination does not rest on “acquired rights” but on real economic relations – the fact that wage labour is not a juridical relation, but purely an economic relation. In our juridical system there is not a single legal formula for the class domination of today. The few remaining traces of such formulae of class domination are (as that concerning servants), survivals of feudal society.
- Social Reform or Revolution – Rosa Luxemburg, (Germany, 1900).
Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal (excerpt)
- Different conception of society, very different from that which now prevails, is in process of formation. Under the name of Anarchy, a new interpretation of the past and present life of society arises, giving at the same time a forecast as regards its future.
- It is not enough to destroy. We must also know how to build, and it is owing to not having thought about it that the masses have always been led astray in all their revolutions. After having demolished they abandoned the care of reconstruction to the middle class people, who possessed a more or less precise conception of what they wished to realize, and who consequently reconstituted authority to their own advantage.
- That is why Anarchy, when it works to destroy authority in all its aspects, when it demands the abrogation of laws and the abolition of the mechanism that serves to impose them, when it refuses all hierarchical organization and preaches free agreement – at the same time strives to maintain and enlarge the precious kernel of social customs without which no human or animal society can exist. Only, instead of demanding that those social customs should be maintained through the authority of a few, it demands it from the continued action of all.
- Communist customs and institutions are of absolute necessity for society, not only to solve economic difficulties, but also to maintain and develop social customs that bring men in contact with one another; they must be looked to for establishing such relations between men that the interest of each should be the interest of all; and this alone can unite men instead of dividing them....
- Communist organization cannot be left to be constructed by legislative bodies called parliaments, municipal or communal council. It must be the work of all, a natural growth, a product of the constructive genius of the great mass. Communism cannot be imposed from above; it could not live even for a few months if the constant and daily co-operation of all did not uphold it. It must be free.
- It cannot exist without creating a continual contact between all for the thousands and thousands of common transactions; it cannot exist without creating local life, independent in the smallest unities-the block of houses, the street, the district, the commune. It would not answer its purpose if it did not cover society with a network of thousands of associations to satisfy its thousand needs: the necessaries of life, articles of luxury, of study, enjoyment, amusements. And such associations cannot remain narrow and local; they must necessarily tend (as is already the case with learned societies, cyclist clubs, humanitarian societies and the like) to become international.
- And the sociable customs that Communism – were it only partial at its origin – must inevitably engender in life, would already be a force incomparably more powerful to maintain and develop the kernel of sociable customs than all repressive machinery.
- This, then, is the form – sociable institution – of which we ask the development of the spirit of harmony that Church and State had undertaken to impose on us – with the sad result we know only too well. And these remarks contain our answer to those who affirm that Communism and Anarchy cannot go together. They are, you see, a necessary complement to one another. The most powerful development of individuality, or individual originality – as one of our comrades has so well said – can only be produced when the first needs of food and shelter are satisfied; when the struggle for existence against the forces of nature has been simplified; when man’s time is no longer taken up entirely by the meaner side of daily subsistence, – then only, his intelligence, his artistic taste, his inventive spirit, his genius, can develop freely and ever strive to greater achievements.
- Communism is the best basis for individual development and freedom; not that individualism which drives man to the war of each against all-this is the only one known up till now, – but that which represents the full expansion of man’s faculties, the superior development of what is original in him, the greatest fruitfulness of intelligence, feeling and will.
- Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal – Peter Kropotkin (1901).
Manifesto of the Socialist Party of Canada (excerpt)
- The class line can only be drawn between the possessors and the dispossessed. Here the interests of all the members of each class are identical. It is to the interest of all the dispossessed to regain possession; of all the possessors to retain it. Between them alone is the class struggle, and political power is the weapon. The class that has not that weapon is absolutely at the mercy of the class that has. By means of the state they are held in subjection, and by means of the state they can alone be emancipated. The state it is that guarantees to the master class ownership in the means of production. Not a title deed but is issued under the aegis of the government, and it is the government that must protect and defend the owners in the enjoyment and possession of their property. The government it is also that can revoke all these titles. The state is the sword of the master class. It lives by the sword and by this sword it shall perish. The class struggle must, therefore, be a political struggle. A struggle on the part of the workers to wrest from the hands of their masters that sword – the state – and use it against them. To such a struggle there can eventually be but one outcome. The very numbers of the workers which, on the industrial field spelled defeat, on the political field make victory certain.
- Manifesto of the Socialist Party of Canada (1910)
Anarchism: What It Really Stands For (excerpt)
- ANARCHISM: – The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary.
- Anarchism aims to strip labour of its deadening, dulling aspect, of its gloom and compulsion. It aims to make work an instrument of joy, of strength, of colour, of real harmony, so that the poorest sort of a man should find in work both recreation and hope.
- To achieve such an arrangement of life, government, with its unjust, arbitrary, repressive measures, must be done away with. At best it has but imposed one single mode of life upon all, without regard to individual and social variations and needs. In destroying government and statutory laws, Anarchism proposes to rescue the self-respect and independence of the individual from all restraint and invasion by authority. Only in freedom can man grow to his full stature. Only in freedom will he learn to think and move, and give the very best in him. Only in freedom will he realize the true force of the social bonds which knit men together, and which are the true foundation of a normal social life.
- But what about human nature? Can it be changed? And if not, will it endure under Anarchism?
- Poor human nature, what horrible crimes have been committed in thy name! Every fool, from king to policeman, from the flatheaded parson to the visionless dabbler in science, presumes to speak authoritatively of human nature. The greater the mental charlatan, the more definite his insistence on the wickedness and weaknesses of human nature. Yet, how can any one speak of it today, with every soul in a prison, with every heart fettered, wounded, and maimed? ...
- Freedom, expansion, opportunity, and, above all, peace and repose, alone can teach us the real dominant factors of human nature and all its wonderful possibilities.
- Anarchism, then, really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. Anarchism stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth; an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth and full enjoyment of the necessities of life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclinations.
- This is not a wild fancy or an aberration of the mind. It is the conclusion arrived at by hosts of intellectual men and women the world over; a conclusion resulting from the close and studious observation of the tendencies of modern society: individual liberty and economic equality, the twin forces for the birth of what is fine and true in man.
- As to methods. Anarchism is not, as some may suppose, a theory of the future to be realized through divine inspiration. It is a living force in the affairs of our life, constantly creating new conditions. The methods of Anarchism therefore do not comprise an iron-clad program to be carried out under all circumstances. Methods must grow out of the economic needs of each place and clime, and of the intellectual and temperamental requirements of the individual.... Anarchism does not stand for military drill and uniformity; it does, however, stand for the spirit of revolt, in whatever form, against everything that hinders human growth. All Anarchists agree in that, as they also agree in their opposition to the political machinery as a means of bringing about the great social change.
- Anarchism: What It Really Stands For – Emma Goldman (1910).
Our Program and the Political Situation (Luxemburg) (excerpt)
- History is not going to make our revolution an easy matter like the bourgeois revolutions in which it sufficed to overthrow that official power at the center and to replace a dozen or so persons in authority. We have to work from beneath, and this corresponds to the mass character of our revolution which aims at the foundation and base of the social constitution; it corresponds to the character of the present proletarian revolution that the conquest of political power must come not from above but from below. The 9th of November was an attempt, a weak, half-hearted, half-conscious, and chaotic attempt to overthrow the existing public power and to put an end to class rule. What now must be done is that with full consciousness all the forces of the proletariat should be concentrated in an attack on the very foundations of capitalist society. There, at the base, where the individual employer confronts his wage slaves; at the base, where all the executive organs of political class rule confront the object of this rule, the masses; there, step by step, we must seize the means of power from the rulers and take them into our own hands. In the form that I depict it, the process may seem rather more tedious than one had imagined it at first. It is healthy, I think, that we should be perfectly clear as to all the difficulties and complications of this revolution. For I hope that, as in my own case, so in yours also, the description of the difficulties of the accumulating tasks will paralyze neither your zeal nor your energy. On the contrary, the greater the task, the more will we gather all of our forces. And we must not forget that the revolution is able to do its work with extraordinary speed. I make no attempt to prophesy how much time will he needed for this process. Who among us cares about the time; who worries, so long only as our lives suffice to bring it to pass.
- Our Program and the Political Situation – Rosa Luxemburg. Speech to the founding conference of the Communist Party of Germany. (1918).
Manifesto of the Communist International to the Workers of the World (excerpt)
- Recognizing the world character of their tasks, the advanced workers have from the very first steps of the organized Socialist movement striven to unify it on an international scale. The beginnings were made in 1864 in London by the First International. The Franco-Prussian War out of which emerged the Germany of the Hohenzollerns cut the ground from under the First International and at the same time gave impetus to the development of national workers’ parties. As far back as 1889 these parties came together in the Congress of Paris and created the organization of the Second International. But the center of gravity of the labour movement during that period remained wholly on national soil, wholly within the framework of national states, upon the foundation of national industry, within the sphere of national parliamentarianism. The decades of reformist organizational activity gave birth to an entire generation of leaders, the majority of whom recognized in words the program of the social revolution but renounced it in deeds, becoming mired in reformism, in a docile adaptation to the bourgeois state. The opportunist character of the leading parties of the Second International has been completely disclosed; and it led to the greatest collapse in world history at a moment when the march of historic events demanded revolutionary methods of struggle from the working-class parties. If the war of 1870 dealt a blow to the First International, disclosing that there was as yet no fused mass force behind its social-revolutionary program, then the war of 1914 killed the Second International, disclosing that the mightiest organizations of the working masses were dominated by parties which had become transformed into auxiliary organs of the bourgeois state! ...
- If the First International presaged the future course of development and indicated its paths; if the Second International gathered and organized millions of workers; then the Third International is the International of open mass action, the International of revolutionary realization, the International of the deed.
- Bourgeois world order has been sufficiently lashed by Socialist criticism. The task of the International Communist Party consists in overthrowing this order and erecting in its place the edifice of the socialist order. We summon the working men and women of all countries to unite under the Communist banner which is already the banner of the first great victories.
- Workers of the World – in the struggle against imperialist barbarism, against monarchy, against the privileged estates, against the bourgeois state and bourgeois property, against all kinds and forms of class or national oppression – Unite!
- Manifesto of the Communist International to the Workers of the World – Written by Leon Trotsky. Adopted by the founding congress of the Third International (Comintern) (March 1919).
Platform of the Communist International (excerpt)
- Communism is now rising from the ruins of the capitalist system; this new system is the only way out of the historic crisis that faces humanity. Opportunists who put forward the utopian demand for the reconstruction of the capitalist economic system in order to defer socialisation only postpone a resolution of the crisis and create the possibility of utter ruin. Communist revolution is the best – is indeed the only possible – means by which society’s truly productive force, the proletariat, and society itself can be saved.
- Proletarian dictatorship does not involve any sharing out of the means of production and exchange. On the contrary, the greatest possible centralisation of the productive forces and the subordination of all production to a single plan is the aim.
- The first steps towards the socialisation of the whole economy include: the socialisation of the apparatus of those big banks at present controlling production; the seizure of all the economic institutions of the capitalist state by bringing them under the control of proletarian state power; the nationalisation of all industries organised in syndicates and trusts and of those branches of industry in which the concentration and centralisation of capital makes nationalisation technically possible; and the nationalisation of agricultural estates and their transformation into publicly managed agricultural units.
- The Platform of the Communist International – Adopted by the founding congress of the Third International. (March 1919).
Manifesto: Second Congress of the Communist International (excerpt)
- Capitalism has proletarianised immense masses of mankind.
- Imperialism has thrown these masses out of balance and started them on the revolutionary road. The very concept of the term ‘masses’ has undergone a change in recent years. Those elements which used to be regarded as the masses in the era of parliamentarianism and trade unionism have now become converted into a labour aristocracy. Millions and tens of millions of those who formerly lived beyond the pale of political life are being transformed today into the revolutionary masses. The war has roused everybody. It has awakened the political interest of the most backward layers; it aroused in them illusions and hopes and it has deceived them. The craft division of labour with its caste spirit, the relative stability of the living standards among the upper proletarian strata, the dumb and apathetic hopelessness among the thickest lower layers, in short, the social foundations of the old forms of the labour movement have receded beyond recall into the past. New millions have been drawn into the struggle.
- Women who have lost their husbands and fathers and have been compelled to take their places in labour’s ranks are streaming into the movement. The working youth, which has grown up amid the thunder and lightning of the World War, hails the revolution as its native element.
- In different countries the struggle is passing through different stages. But it is the final struggle. Not infrequently the waves of the movement flow into obsolete organisational forms, lending them temporary vitality. Here and there on the surface of the flood old labels and half-obliterated slogans float. Human minds are still filled with much confusion, many shadows, prejudices and illusions. But the movement as a whole is of a profoundly revolutionary character. It is all-embracing and irresistible. It spreads, strengthens and purifies itself; and it is eliminating all the old rubbish. It will not halt before it brings about the rule of the world proletariat.
- The basic form of this movement is the strike. Its simplest and most potent cause lies in the rising prices of primary necessities. Not infrequently the strike arises out of isolated local conflicts. It arises as an expression of the masses’ impatience with the parliamentary Socialist mish-mash.
- It originates in the feeling of solidarity with the oppressed of all countries, including one’s own. It combines economic and political slogans. In it are not infrequently combined fragments of reformism with slogans of the programme of social revolution. It dies down, ceases, only in order again to resurrect itself, shaking the foundations of production, keeping the state apparatus under constant strain, and driving the bourgeoisie into all the greater frenzy because it utilises every pretext to send its greetings to Soviet Russia. The premonitions of the exploiters are not unfounded, for this chaotic strike is in reality the social-revolutionary roll call and the mobilisation of the international proletariat.
- Manifesto of the Second Congress of the Third International – (August 1920).
Theses on the Fundamental Tasks of the Communist International (excerpt)
- The principal duty of the Communist parties, from the point of view of the international proletarian movement, is at the present moment the uniting of the dispersed Communist forces, the formation in each country of a single Communist Party (or the strengthening and renovation of the already existing one) in order to assist in the work of preparing the proletariat for the conquest of state power in the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The socialist work usually done by groups and parties which recognise the dictatorship of the proletariat has not yet by a long way been subjected to the radical strengthening and renewal which is essential if it is to be regarded as Communist work corresponding to the tasks on the eve of the proletarian dictatorship.
- Theses on the Fundamental Tasks of the Communist International – (August 1920).
Workers’ Opposition (excerpt)
- Is it to be bureaucracy or self-activity of the masses? This is the second point of the controversy between the leaders of our Party and the Workers’ Opposition. The question of bureaucracy was raised and only superficially discussed at the eighth Soviet Congress. Herein, just as in the question on the part to be played by the trade unions and their problems, the discussion was shifted to a wrong channel. The controversy on this question is more fundamental than it might seem.
- The essence is this: what system of administration in a workers’ republic during the period of creation of the economic basis for Communism secures more freedom for the class creative powers? Is it a bureaucratic state system or a system of wide practical self-activity of the working masses? The question relates to the system of administration and the controversy arises between two diametrically opposed principles: bureaucracy or self-activity. And yet they try to squeeze it into the scope of the problem that concerns itself only with methods of animating the Soviet institutions’....
- Wide publicity, freedom of opinion and discussion, the right to criticise within the Party and among the members of the trade unions – such are the decisive steps that can put an end to the prevailing system of bureaucracy. Freedom of criticism, right of different factions freely to present their views at Party meetings, freedom of discussion – are no longer the demands of the Workers’ Opposition alone. Under the growing pressure from the masses, a whole series of measures that were demanded by the rank and file.
- The Workers Opposition – Alexandra Kollonati (Soviet Union, 1921).
Manifesto of Surrealism (excerpt)
- Surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected associations, in the omnipotence of dream, in the disinterested play of thought. It tends to ruin once and for all all other psychic mechanisms and to substitute itself for them in solving all the principal problems of life.
of Surrealism – Andre Breton (France, 1924).
Platform (Makno) (excerpt)
- The ideas of anarchism and syndicalism belong on two different planes. Whereas communism, that is to say a society of free workers, is the goal of the anarchist struggle – syndicalism, that is the movement of revolutionary workers in their occupations, is only one of the forms of revolutionary class struggle. In uniting workers on a basis of production, revolutionary syndicalism, like all groups based on professions, has no determining theory, it does not have a conception of the world which answers all the complicated social and political questions of contemporary reality. It always reflects the ideologies of diverse political groupings notably of those who work most intensely in its ranks....
- the question which is posed today is not whether anarchists should or should not participate in revolutionary syndicalism, but rather how and to what end they must take part.
- We consider the period up to the present day, when anarchists entered the syndicalist movement as individuals and propagandists, as a period of artisan relationships towards the professional workers movement.
- Anarcho-syndicalism, trying to forcefully introduce libertarian ideas into the left wing of revolutionary syndicalism as a means of creating anarchist-type unions, represents a step forward, but it does not, as yet, go beyond the empirical method, for anarcho-syndicalism does not necessarily interweave the ’anarchisation’ of the trade union movement with that of the anarchists organised outside the movement. For it is only on this basis, of such a liaison, that revolutionary trade unionism could be ’anarchised’ and prevented from moving towards opportunism and reformism.
- In regarding syndicalism only as a professional body of workers without a coherent social and political theory, and consequently, being powerless to resolve the social question on its own, we consider that the tasks of anarchists in the ranks of the movement consist of developing libertarian theory, and point it in a libertarian direction, in order to transform it into an active arm of the social revolution. It is necessary to never forget that if trade unionism does not find in anarchist theory a support in opportune times it will turn, whether we like it or not, to the ideology of a political statist party.
- The tasks of anarchists in the ranks of the revolutionary workers’ movement could only be fulfilled on conditions that their work was closely interwoven and linked with the activity of the anarchist organisation outside the union. In other words, we must enter into revolutionary trade unions as an organised force, responsible to accomplish work in the union before the general anarchist organisation and orientated by the latter.
- Platform – Nestor Makno (1926).
Regina Manifesto (excerpt)
- WE AIM TO REPLACE the present capitalist system, with its inherent injustice and inhumanity, by a social order from which the domination and exploitation of one class by another will be eliminated, in which economic planning will supersede unregulated private enterprise and competition, and in which genuine democratic self-government, based upon economic equality will be possible. The present order is marked by glaring inequalities of wealth and opportunity, by chaotic waste and instability; and in an age of plenty it condemns the great mass of the people to poverty and insecurity. Power has become more and more concentrated into the hands of a small irresponsible minority of financiers and industrialists and to their predatory interests the majority are habitually sacrificed. When private profit is the main stimulus to economic effort, our society oscillates between periods of feverish prosperity in which the main benefits go to speculators and profiteers, and of catastrophic depression, in which the common man’s normal state of insecurity and hardship is accentuated. We believe that these evils can be removed only in a planned and socialized economy in which our natural resources and principal means of production and distribution are owned, controlled and operated by the people.
- The new social order at which we aim is not one in which individuality will be crushed out by a system of regimentation. Nor shall we interfere with cultural rights of racial or religious minorities. What we seek is a proper collective organization of our economic resources such as will make possible a much greater degree of leisure and a much richer individual life for every citizen.
- This social and economic transformation can be brought about by political action, through the election of a government inspired by the ideal of a Co-operative Commonwealth and supported by a majority of the people. We do not believe in change by violence. We consider that both the old parties in Canada are the instruments of capitalist interests and cannot serve as agents of social reconstruction, and that whatever the superficial differences between them, they are bound to carry on government in accordance with the dictates of the big business interests who finance them. The CCF aims at political power in order to put an end to this capitalist domination of our political life. It is a democratic movement, a federation of farmer, labour and socialist organizations, financed by its own members and seeking to achieve its ends solely by constitutional methods.
Regina Manifesto – Co-operative Commonwealth Federation Programme (Canada, 1933).
The Transitional Program (excerpt)
- The Fourth International has already arisen out of great events: the greatest defeats of the proletariat in history. The cause for these defeats is to be found in the degeneration and perfidy of the old leadership. The class struggle does not tolerate an interruption. The Third International, following the Second, is dead for purposes of revolution. Long live the Fourth International!
- But has the time yet arrived to proclaim its creation? ... the skeptics are not quieted down. The Fourth International, we answer, has no need of being “proclaimed.” It exists and it fights. It is weak? Yes, its ranks are not numerous because it is still young. They are as yet chiefly cadres. But these cadres are pledges for the future. Outside these cadres there does not exist a single revolutionary current on this planet really meriting the name. If our international be still weak in numbers, it is strong in doctrine, program, tradition, in the incomparable tempering of its cadres. Who does not perceive this today, let him in the meantime stand aside. Tomorrow it will become more evident.
- The Fourth International, already today, is deservedly hated by the Stalinists, Social Democrats, bourgeois liberals and fascists. There is not and there cannot be a place for it in any of the People’s Fronts. It uncompromisingly gives battle to all political groupings tied to the apron-strings of the bourgeoisie. Its task – the abolition of capitalism’s domination. Its aim – socialism. Its method – the proletarian revolution.
- Without inner democracy – no revolutionary education. Without discipline – no revolutionary action. The inner structure of the Fourth International is based on the principles of democratic centralism: full freedom in discussion, complete unity in action.
- The present crisis in human culture is the crisis in the proletarian leadership. The advanced workers, united in the Fourth International, show their class the way out of the crisis. They offer a program based on international experience in the struggle of the proletariat and of all the oppressed of the world for liberation. They offer a spotless banner.
- Workers – men and women – of all countries, place yourselves under the banner of the Fourth International. It is the banner of your approaching victory!
- The Transitional Programme The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International. – (Leon Trotsky, 1938).
Program of the Minority (excerpt)
- For the propagation of the concept of workers’ control of production and a workers’ government based on factory committees. For propaganda and agitation for rank and file trade union committees, stewards committees, etc to open the books and to control production as a step in the development toward factory committees.
- Against the abstract use of slogans of nationalisation, workers control of production and workers government, without linking them with concrete forms of mass action and organization.
- For the propagation of the concept of workers defense guards in connection with every strike and street demonstration.
- Against the concept that the propagation of workers defense guards presupposes preparation for the immediate seizure of power.
- The Program of the Minority – Statement of the minority in the (U.S.) Workers Party, by C.L.R. James (J.R. Johnson), Raya Dunayevsksa (F. Forrest), et al. (USA, May 1946).
Freedom Charter (excerpt)
- We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know:
- that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people;
- that our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality;
- that our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities;
- that only a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief;
- And therefore, we, the people of South Africa, black and white together equals, countrymen and brothers adopt this Freedom Charter;
- And we pledge ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic changes here set out have been won.
- The Freedom Charter – Adopted at the Kliptown Congress of the African National Congress (June, 1955).
Winnipeg Declaration (excerpt)
- In the cooperative commonwealth there will be an important role for public, private and cooperative enterprise working together in the people’s interest.
- The CCF has always recognized public ownership as the most effective means of breaking the stranglehold of private monopolies on the life of the nation and of facilitating the social planning necessary for economic security and advance. The CCF will, therefore, extend public ownership wherever it is necessary for the achievement of these objectives.
- At the same time, the CCF also recognizes that in many fields there will be need for private enterprise which can make a useful contribution to the development of our economy. The cooperative commonwealth will, therefore, provide appropriate opportunities for private business as well as publicly-owned industry.
- The CCF will protect and make more widespread the ownership of family farms by those who will till them, of homes by those who live in them, and of all personal possessions necessary for the well-being of the Canadian people.
- cooperative form of ownership. In such fields, every assistance will be given to form cooperatives and credit unions and to strengthen those already in existence.
- Winnipeg Declaration of Principles – Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (Canada, 1956).
Preliminaries Toward Defining a Unitary Revolutionary Program (excerpt)
- Revolutionary politics thus has as its content the totality of the problems of the society. It has as its form the experimental practice of a free life through organized struggle against the capitalist order. The revolutionary movement must thus itself become an experimental movement. Henceforth, wherever it exists, it must develop and resolve as profoundly as possible the problems of a revolutionary microsociety. This comprehensive politics culminates in the moment of revolutionary action, when the masses abruptly intervene to make history and discover their action as direct experience and as festival. At such moments they undertake a conscious and collective construction of everyday life which, one day, will no longer be stopped by anything.
- Preliminaries Toward Defining a Unitary Revolutionary Program – (Pierre Canjuers, Guy Debord, France, 1960).
Perspective for Conscious Change in Everyday Life (excerpt)
- Someone posed the question, “What is private life [vie privée] deprived [privée] of?” Quite simply of life itself, which is cruelly absent. People are as deprived as possible of communication and of self-fulfillment; deprived of the opportunity to personally make their own history. Positive responses to this question about the nature of the privation can thus only take the form of projects of enrichment; the project of developing a style of life different from the present one (if the present way of life can even be said to have a “style”). Or to put it another way, if we regard everyday life as the frontier between the dominated and the undominated sectors of life, and thus as the terrain of chance and uncertainty, it would be necessary to replace the present ghetto with a constantly moving frontier; to work ceaselessly toward the organization of new chances....
- The present depoliticization of many former leftist militants, their withdrawal from one type of alienation to plunge into another, that of private life, represents not so much a return to privacy, a flight from “historical responsibility,” but rather a withdrawal from the specialized political sector that is always manipulated by others – a sector where the only responsibility they ever took was that of leaving all responsibility to uncontrolled leaders; a sector where the communist project was sidetracked and betrayed. Just as one cannot simplistically oppose private life to public life without asking: what private life? what public life? (for private life contains the factors of its negation and supersession, just as collective revolutionary action harboured the factors of its degeneration), so it would be a mistake to assess the alienation of individuals within revolutionary politics when it is really a matter of the alienation of revolutionary politics itself. The problem of alienation should be tackled dialectically, so as to draw attention to the constantly recurring possibilities of alienation arising within the very struggle against alienation.
- Perspective for Conscious Change in Everyday Life – Guy Debord (France, 1961).
Port Huron Statement (excerpt)
- As a social system we seek the establishment of a democracy of individual participation, governed by two central aims: that the individual share in those social decisions determining the quality and direction of his life; that society be organized to encourage independence in men and provide the media for their common participation.
- In a participatory democracy, the political life would be based in several root principles:
- * that decision-making of basic social consequence be carried on by public groupings;
- * that politics be seen positively, as the art of collectively creating an acceptable pattern of social relations;
- * that politics has the function of bringing people out of isolation and into community, thus being a necessary, though not sufficient, means of finding meaning in personal life;
- * that the political order should serve to clarify problems in a way instrumental to their solution; it should provide outlets for the expression of personal grievance and aspiration; opposing views should be organized so as to illuminate choices and facilities the attainment of goals; channels should be commonly available to related men to knowledge and to power so that private problems -- from bad recreation facilities to personal alienation -- are formulated as general issues.
- The economic sphere would have as its basis the principles:
- * that work should involve incentives worthier than money or survival. It should be educative, not stultifying; creative, not mechanical; selfdirect, not manipulated, encouraging independence; a respect for others, a sense of dignity and a willingness to accept social responsibility, since it is this experience that has crucial influence on habits, perceptions and individual ethics;
- * that the economic experience is so personally decisive that the individual must share in its full determination;
- * that the economy itself is of such social importance that its major resources and means of production should be open to democratic participation and subject to democratic social regulation.
- Like the political and economic ones, major social institutions -- cultural, education, rehabilitative, and others -- should be generally organized with the well-being and dignity of man as the essential measure of success.
- In social change or interchange, we find violence to be abhorrent because it requires generally the transformation of the target, be it a human being or a community of people, into a depersonalized object of hate. It is imperative that the means of violence be abolished and the institutions -- local, national, international -- that encourage nonviolence as a condition of conflict be developed.
- The Port Huron Statement – Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) (USA, 1962).
Arusha Declaration (excerpt)
- The principal aims and objects of TANU shall be as follows:
- (a) To consolidate and maintain the independence of this country and the freedom of its people;
- (b) To safeguard the inherent dignity of the individual in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
- (c) To ensure that this country shall be governed by a democratic socialist government of the people;
- (d) To co-operate with all political parties in Africa engaged in the liberation of all Africa;
- (e) To see that the Government mobilizes all the resources of this country towards the elimination of poverty, ignorance and disease;
- (f) To see that the Government actively assists in the formation and maintenance of co-operative organizations;
- (g) to see that wherever possible the Government itself directly participates in the economic development of this country;
- (h) To see that the Government gives equal opportunity to all men and women irrespective of race, religion or status;
- (i) To see that the Government eradicates all types of exploitation, intimidation, discrimination, bribery and corruption;
- (j) To see that the Government exercises effective control over the principal means of production and pursues policies which facilitate the way to collective ownership of the resources of this country;
- (k) To see that the Government co-operates with other states in Africa in bringing about African unity;
- (l) To see that Government works tirelessly towards world peace and security through the United Nations Organization.
- The Arusha Declaration – Written by Julius Nyerere for the Tanganyika African National Union (February 1967).
Solidarity: As We See It (excerpt)
- Socialism is not just the common ownership and control of the means of production and distribution. It means equality, real freedom, reciprocal recognition and a radical transformation in all human relations. It is ’man’s positive self-consciousness’. It is man’s understanding of his environment and of himself, his domination over his work and over such social institutions as he may need to create. These are not secondary aspects, which will automatically follow the expropriation of the old ruling class, On the contrary they are essential parts of the whole process of social transformation, for without them no genuine social transformation will have taken place.
- A socialist society can therefore only be built from below. Decisions concerning production and work will be taken by workers’ councils composed of elected and revocable delegates, Decisions in other areas will be taken on the basis of the widest possible discussion and consultation among the people as a whole. This democratisation of society down to its very roots is what we mean by ’worker’s power’.
- Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of the masses and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others – even by those allegedly acting on their behalf.
- No ruling class in history has ever relinquished its power without a struggle and our present rulers are unlikely to be an exception. Power will only be taken from them through the conscious, autonomous action of the vast majority of the people themselves. The building of socialism will require mass understanding and mass participation. By their rigid hierarchical structure, by their ideas and by their activities, both social-democratic and Bolshevik types of organisations discourage this kind of understanding and prevent this kind of participation. The idea that socialism can somehow be achieved by an elite party (however revolutionary) acting ’on behalf of’ the working class is both absurd and reactionary.
- As We See It – Solidarity London (Great Britain, 1967).
As We Don’t See It (excerpt)
- The power of the rulers feeds on the indecision and confusion of the ruled. Their power will only be overcome if confronted with ours: the power of a conscious and self-reliant majority, knowing what it wants and determined to get it. In modern industrial societies the power of such a majority will lie where thousands congregate daily, to sell their labour power in the production of goods and services.
- Socialism cannot be the result of a putch, of the capture of some Palace, or of the blowing up of some Party or Police Headquarters, carried out ’on behalf of the people’ or ’to galvanise the masses’. If unsuccessful, all that such actions do is to create martyrs and myths – and to provoke intensified repression. If ’successful’, they would only substitute one ruling minority for another, i. e. bring about a new form of exploitative society. Nor can socialism be introduced by organisations themselves structured according to authoritarian, hierarchical, bureaucratic or semi-military patterns. All that such organisations have instituted (and, if ’successful’, are likely to continue instituting) are societies in their own image.
- The social revolution is no Party matter. It will be the action of the immense majority, acting in the interests of the immense majority. The failures of social-democracy and of Bolshevism are the failure of a whole concept of politics, a concept according to which the oppressed could entrust their liberation to others than themselves. This lesson is gradually entering mass consciousness and preparing the ground for a genuinely libertarian revolution.
- As We Don't See It – Solidarity London (Great Britain).
Waffle Manifesto (excerpt)
- Our aim as democratic socialists is to build an independent socialist Canada. Our aim as supporters of the New Democratic Party is to make it a truly socialist party.
- The achievement of socialism awaits the building of a mass base of socialists, in factories and offices, on farms and campuses. The development of socialist consciousness, on which can be built a socialist base, must be the first priority of the New Democratic Party.
- The New Democratic Party must be seen as the parliamentary wing of a movement dedicated to fundamental social change. It must be radicalized from within and it must be radicalized from without.
- The most urgent issue for Canadians is the very survival of Canada. Anxiety is pervasive and the goal of greater economic independence receives widespread support. But economic independence without socialism is a sham, and neither are meaningful without true participatory democracy.
- The Waffle Manifesto: For an Independent Socialist Canada – (Canada, 1969).
The Socialist League and the Struggle for a Socialist Canada (excerpt)
- The revolutionary left, in a state of disunity and discord, has failed to develop a successful strategy to reach the mass of Canadian workers. The crisis of leadership in the workers’ movement and in the revolutionary left has meant that most Canadians look upon the NDP as the only practical alternative to the rule of big business. The NDP – not the organizations of the radical left – constitutes the only mass, organized, political expression of the aspirations of Canadian workers for independent working-class political action today and for some time to come.
- The NDP, however, is dominated by a liberal-reformist leadership which is parliamentarist and opportunist. This leadership, although capable of moving to the left under mass pressure, has the limited perspective of reforming a system which cries out for replacement.
- Socialist League Founding Statement – (Canada, 1974).
Political Statement of the Libertarian Socialist Collective (excerpt)
- We define ourselves as libertarian socialists. The socialist perspective, as we see it, implies a total critique of human society as it is presently constituted. Socialism means a total transformation of life and social institutions – a project of collective self-transformation. It means a thorough critique of authoritarianism, hierarchy, and bureaucracy, of capitalist technique, forms of organization, and technology, of the orientation to the environment that attempts to dominate and manipulate it rather than living in ecological harmony with it. Socialism means recognition of the centrality of creativity, play, art, and sexuality. It involves awareness of all forms of social life, struggle against all forms of oppression and repression, work on developing alternatives in the process of the struggle itself.
Political Statement of the Libertarian Socialist Collective – (Canada, 1979).
Green Book (NC) (excerpt)
- * The main content of the present phase of our struggle is to achieve the aims of our national-democratic revolution whose essence is the national liberation of the black oppresseed. Among the black oppressed it is the African majority which, as a community, suffers the most intense forms of racist domination. The colonial conquest, by force of arms, robbed them of their sovereignty and of their land and transformed them into the main object of economic exploitation. The maximum mobilisation of the African people, as a community robbed of its land and sovereignty, is a fundamental pivot of the alignment of national revolutionary forces.
- * The aim of national liberation guides our assessment of who the principal enemy is, which are the primary revolutionary forces, and what strategic and tactical methods of struggle are called for. The victorious outcome of the present phase of our struggle will create a people’s power whose main immediate task will be to put an end to the special form of colonial-type oppression, guarantee democratic rights for all South Africans and place the main means of production into the hands of a people’s state.
- * The aims of our national-democratic revolution will only be fully realized with the construction of a social order in which all the historic consequences of national oppression and its foundation, economic exploitation, will be liquidated, ensuring the achievement of real national liberation and social emancipation. An uninterrupted advance towards this ultimate goal will only be assured if within the alignment of revolutionary forces struggling to win the aims of our national-democratic revolution, the dominant role is played by the oppressed working people.
- The Green Book – Report of the Politico-Military Strategy Commission to the African National Congress National Executive Committee (1979).
Revolution Re-Assessed (excerpt)
Revolution Re-assessed – Libertarian Socialist Organisation (Australia, 1980).
- Societies thus far are characterised by divisions between those without power and specific hierarchies of decision-makers. While living standards in some parts of the world have dramatically increased during the last century, basic economics structures have stayed decidely unchanged. Traditional politics and trade unions, while having been founded on reformist principles, have effectively made peace with existing power structures, and now exist as distinctly reactionary bodies. Real socialism is not simply an abstract economic arrangement, but a “people’s positive self-consciousness,” the field in which human creativity and thought can interact and propogate new mode of living. A functional, socialist society, then, can only be created from below, as it depends upon people themselves for its constitution. “Meaningful Action” is that which aids in furthering the democratisation of societal institutions and thought. Power can only be taken by the collective and autonomous actions of the people themselves.
We Can Change the World (excerpt)
- If there is anything that defines the world as we approach the end of the twentieth century, it is the loss of hope.
- The fundamental reason for this loss of hope is that there seems to be no alternative to the capitalist system. Communism provided the fullest articulation of apparently revolutionary ideas in the twentieth century, and it has turned out a disaster. The idea of revolution has been defeated by the reality of it.
- Without an alternative to the system, fundamental change seems out of the question. We seem doomed to live in the grip of a system which defines human life in terms of its own imperatives of profit and loss, competition and inequality. It seems that the deepest human values and most important human relationships must forever be subordinated to the needs of the economy and the dictates of the elite.
- Hope in the future and belief in the possibility of fundamental change – belief in the possibility of revolution – are inextricably linked. The defeat of the idea of revolution has led to an end to the belief that human beings have the capacity to create a human world.
- The idea of revolution has no legitimacy in contemporary society. Yet a revolutionary conception of society is essential if we hope to understand the world around us or to change it.
- The reason for this lies in the nature of the system in which we live. Capitalism is not merely an economic system. It is a system of human relations, which projects and enforces its own view of the world as its primary source of control. The essence of the capitalist view of the world is a view of people: the idea that capitalist society expresses human nature.
- According to this view, society is competitive and unequal, driven by greed and self-seeking, because that is the way people are. The goal of society is economic development; the goal of the individual is to produce and consume. Society is a jungle in which only the fit survive, and the most fit rise to the top. Whatever is good comes from the top of the social order. The feudal aristocracy claimed that the order of society was the will of God and therefore eternal. The capitalist class claims that the order of society is human nature, and therefore cannot be changed.
- Capitalism holds that self-interest is the fundamental human motivation. Capitalism defines the possibilities of human society in terms of this view, and it shapes the fundamental relationships in society, such as economic relations, to conform to this view. Capitalism means a society constructed on selfishness as the basis of human development.
- The culture of capitalism has great power to convince us that the world cannot be different, because “this is the way people are.” In this competitive world, we are taught to be always on the defensive. We are forced to compete for grades at school and for jobs when we graduate. The stories we read in the newspaper, the ideas we are taught in school, our experiences on the job can all serve to convince us that people really are just out for themselves.
- To understand that the world can be different, we have first to realize that people are different from what capitalism says they are. We have to realize that selfishness is not the fundamental impulse of most people’s lives.
- The heart of a political vision is thus not a view of economic or political structures but a view of people. The revolutionary vision ... is a view of people which shows that most people are moved primarily by goals other than self-interest and thus are capable of creating a new society together.
- In addition to an alternative view of people, a revolutionary vision must provide a coherent explanation of social change and a method for analyzing events and issues. Above all, it must furnish a basis for action: it must allow us to understand history in such a way as to change it.
- We Can Change the World – David Stratman (USA 1991).
Solidarity (US) Founding Statement (excerpt)
- The task of constructing a socialist alternative in the U.S. begins with the building of resistance, in large battles and small ones, in the unions and the broader social movements, to the economic and social assaults of capital. The participation of socialist activists in these daily struggles is far more important than the elaboration of complex schemes of “structural reform” for which there is no means of implementation.
- We try to introduce relevant political ideas into these daily struggles, in any way we can, helping to link them together, to build alliances and ties of solidarity between them. This means participating in all fights for reform. But it also means introducing a broader vision of a society without exploitation or oppression. Such a society cannot be handed down from above; it requires that ordinary working people take control, collectively and democratically, over their lives.
- Socialism is the society that workers and the oppressed will begin to build when they have taken power through a revolution that grows out of their daily struggles. It must be based on workers’ democracy, meaning both workers’ control of production and the exercise of political power through mass democratic institutions. Only through such institutions of workers’ democracy can the working class keep the power it has won and use it to construct a new society.
- Our socialist vision is therefore profoundly revolutionary and democratic, visionary and rooted in daily struggle, working class and feminist, anti-capitalist and anti-bureaucratic. Only by forging such an alternative at home can we ultimately fulfill our obligations to the struggles for freedom around the world.
- Solidarity (US) Founding Statement – (USA, 1986).
What Do We Do Now? (excerpt)
- One of the most important and difficult tasks of a social movement is to persuade ordinary people that there are possible alternatives. We have to promote the idea that there are alternative ways of dealing with day to day problems, and also that it is possible and desirable to have a fundamentally different world, in which the goals of freedom, justice, security, and cooperation are realized.
- We have to convince people – and quite possibly ourselves – that a society with extremes of wealth and poverty, in which most of us have to sell our labour, our lives, to others, is not the only one possible.
- One of our major continuing goals has to be to break through the deadening conviction that “nothing can be done” because of the weight of the ’system’, with its virtual monopoly of resources, land, public space, media, and human energy.
- Yet we need only look at activities of the thousands of people working in grassroots groups across this country, and around the world, to see that people do join with others to block what they see as harmful and to fight for what they consider to be desirable and just. When they do, that which seemed impossible to achieve starts to become possible, because enough people believe it is possible and are working to make it so.
- As we create a movement to change society, we change ourselves, and in changing ourselves, we make social change more possible.
- What Do We Do Now? Building a Social Movement in the Aftermath of Free Trade – Connexions (Canada, 1989).
A Better World: Programme of the Worker-communist Party of Iran (excerpt)
- Communist society is not a dream or utopia. All the conditions for the formation of such a society have already created within the capitalist world itself. The scientific, technological and productive powers of humanity have already grown so enormously that founding a society committed to the well-being of all is perfectly feasible. The spectacular advances in communication and information technology during the last two decades have meant that the organization of a world community with collective participation in the design, planning and execution of society’s diverse functions is possible more than ever before. A large part of these resources is now either wasted in different ways or is even deliberately used to hinder efforts to improve society and satisfy human needs. But for all the immensity of society’s material resources, the backbone of communist society is the creative and living power of billions of men and women beings freed from class bondage, wage-slavery, intellectual slavery, alienation and degradation. The free human being is the guarantee for the realization of communist society.
- Communist society is not a utopia. It is the goal and result of the struggle of an immense social class against capitalism; a living, real and ongoing struggle that is as old as bourgeois society itself. Capitalism itself has created the great social force that can materialise this liberating prospect. The staggering power of capital on a global scale is a reflection of the power of a world working class. Unlike other oppressed classes in the history of human society, the working class cannot set itself free without freeing the whole of humanity. Communist society is the product of workers’ revolution to put an end to the system of wage-slavery; a social revolution which inevitably transforms the entire foundation of the production relations.
- A Better World: Program of the Worker-communist Party of Iran – (1994-1997).
Joy of Revolution (excerpt)
- A radical situation is a collective awakening. At one extreme it may involve a few dozen people in a neighborhood or workplace; at the other it shades into a full-fledged revolutionary situation involving millions of people. It’s not a matter of numbers, but of open-ended public dialogue and participation. The incident at the beginning of the 1964 Free Speech Movement (FSM) is a classic and particularly beautiful example. As police were about to take away an arrested civil rights activist on the university campus in Berkeley, a few students sat down in front of the police car; within a few minutes hundreds of others spontaneously followed their example, surrounding the car so it could not move. For the next 32 hours the car roof was turned into a platform for freewheeling debate. The May 1968 occupation of the Sorbonne created an even more radical situation by drawing in much of the nonstudent Parisian population; the workers’ occupation of factories throughout France then turned it into a revolutionary situation.
- In such situations people become much more open to new perspectives, readier to question previous assumptions, quicker to see through the usual cons. Every day some people go through experiences that lead them to question the meaning of their lives; but during a radical situation practically everyone does so all at once. When the machine grinds to a halt, the cogs themselves begin wondering about their function.
- Bosses are ridiculed. Orders are ignored. Separations are broken down. Personal problems are transformed into public issues; public issues that seemed distant and abstract become immediate practical matters. The old order is analyzed, criticized, satirized. People learn more about society in a week than in years of academic “social studies” or leftist “consciousness raising.” Long repressed experiences are revived. Everything seems possible – and much more is possible. People can hardly believe what they used to put up with in “the old days.” Even if the outcome is uncertain, the experience is often seen as worthwhile for its own sake....
- “Those who make revolutions half way only dig their own graves.” A revolutionary movement cannot attain some local victory and then expect to peacefully coexist with the system until it’s ready to try for a little more. All existing powers will put aside their differences in order to destroy any truly radical popular movement before it spreads. If they can’t crush it militarily, they’ll strangle it economically (national economies are now so globally interdependent that no country would be immune from such pressure). The only way to defend a revolution is to extend it, both qualitatively and geographically. The only guarantee against internal reaction is the most radical liberation of every aspect of life. The only guarantee against external intervention is the most rapid internationalization of the struggle.
- The most profound expression of internationalist solidarity is, of course, to make a parallel revolution in one’s own country (1848, 1917-1920, 1968). Short of this, the most urgent task is at least to prevent counterrevolutionary intervention from one’s own country, as when British workers pressured their government not to support the slave states during the American Civil War (even though this meant greater unemployment due to lack of cotton imports); or when Western workers struck and mutinied against their governments’ attempts to support the reactionary forces during the civil war following the Russian revolution; or when people in Europe and America opposed their countries’ repression of anticolonial revolts.
- The Joy of Revolution – Ken Knabb (USA, 1997).
Walking: We Ask Questions (excerpt)
- The second stage of the movement will be harder than the first. It’s a stage of working closer to home, a stage where mass action on the streets is balanced (but not entirely replaced) with creating alternatives to capitalism in our neighborhoods, our towns and cities. A politics which moves between construction and conflict, based on longer-term visions, where we seek to construct alternatives that will sustain us into the future – and yet remembers that any true alternatives to capital will throw us into conflict with the system and that we need to strategize continually to defend ourselves against it.
- Yet returning to our neighborhoods, we must not fetishize the local, retreat into subcultural ghettos, nor forget that we are the world’s first grassroots-led global political project. We must not undo the global ties that bind us together in a world-wide network. These powers cannot be fought alone, or by single factions. They will pick us off one by one if we attempt to do so. And our resistance still needs to be as transnational as capital, as financial speculation, as climate change, as debt, as corporate power....
- How can we discover the paths we should take? How will we know they are the right ones? For is there any revolution in history that has not taken a wrong turn eventually, ending in bloodshed and betrayal – ultimately, in failure?
- The anticapitalist movement is the most sustained recent attempt to reinvent the notion of revolution into a constantly evolving process rather than the triumph of an ideology. One thing we have tried to learn from history is that the means we choose determine the ends. Too many times we have seen power-seekers gradually compromise every principle they hold until by the time they succeed in gaining power, they must be resisted because they have betrayed everything they stood for. We are not creating a new ideology to impose from above, to “replace” capitalism, but evolving a new, radically participatory methodology from below. Rather than seeking a map to tomorrow, we are developing our own journeys, individually and collectively, as we travel.
- Walking We Ask Questions – Notes from Nowhere Collective. From the book We Are Everywhere (USA, 2004).
Manifesto of the Third Camp against US Militarism and Islamic Terrorism (excerpt)
- We must stand up with all our power to the US government’s and its allies’ bullying. We must put an end to the crimes of the opposite pole, i.e. Islamic terrorism. We must help the people of Islam-stricken countries to get rid of the menace of Islamic terrorist states and forces. American militarism and Islamic terrorism have brutalised the world. Neither of them has a solution to the present crisis and its resulting problems. Rather, they are themselves the cause of this crisis and its aggravation. Civilised humanity must rise up against both these poles and the suffering that they have imposed on the world. The human and genuine solution to the problem of nuclear weapons, to Islamic terrorism and its horrific crimes against the people of the world, and to the militaristic bullying of the US and Western governments lies in the hands of us people.
- Manifesto of the Third Camp Against U.S. Militarism and Islamic Terrorism – (2006).
News & Letters Draft Perspective (excerpt)
- Despite the interest shown by many youth today in working out a comprehensive alternative to capitalism, the prevailing tendency of radical thought is to stop dead at the political form of decision-making as the determinant to creating a new society-as if the question of “what happens after” the revolution can be answered without grappling with the difficult problem of how a revolution can transcend the capitalist law of value....
- No new society can arise without freely associated relations of production and in society as a whole. But masses of people want to know what SPECIFIC relations of production and society need to be transformed in a way that can enable humanity to fundamentally break from value production. We must address that question and not stop dead before it.
- No one has a crystal ball as to how to create the social relations that Marx outlined as needed in the aftermath of a social revolution. Neither a program nor a blueprint can bring it into reality. But the radical movement has greatly suffered from failing to take off from and further develop the principles outlined in Marx’s CRITIQUE OF THE GOTHA PROGRAM. This has left a void that is being filled by false alternatives like market socialism, statism or anarchism. None can answer the pressing question of whether humanity can be free from capitalist value production, racism, sexism, and dehumanized, thingified relations of everyday life.
- We aim to help fill the void on the question of “what happens after” by creatively rethinking and restating his concept of “revolution in permanence” for today, and by making Marx’s CRITIQUE OF THE GOTHA PROGRAM our ground for organization. In taking this as our core organizational perspective, we seek to get others thinking about these concepts by going to their meetings, writing to their publications, and engaging in dialog with all whom we can reach.
- Draft for Marxist-Humanist Perspectives 2006 - 2007 – News & Letters (USA, 2007).
About the documents selected for inclusion
- Connexions works to support individuals and organizations working for freedom and social justice. One of our primary purposes is to maintain, and make available, a record of the theory and practice of people struggling against oppression and for social change. We believe that the more we know about the struggles, victories, and defeats of the past, and about those who took part in them, the better equipped we will be to bring a new world into being.
- Connexions maintains a physical archive of books and documents, and we are engaged in an ongoing project to build and expand an indexed digital archive of documents, and to make it available through the Connexions website. We try to feature a wide variety of resources reflecting a diversity of viewpoints and approaches to social change within our overall mandate of support for democracy, civil liberties, freedom of speech, universal human rights, secularism, equality, economic justice, environmental responsibility, and the creation and preservation of community. Connexions welcomes suggestions for materials to include (and review copies where applicable).
- We reserve the right to decline materials on the basis of appropriateness or quality, or if in our judgement they conflict with our policies against hatred, racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism or other forms of discrimination such as those based on gender, sexual orientation, age, and ethnicity.
- We are internationalist in our orientation, but at the same time, as a Canadian-based project we feature an especially extensive collection of Canadian documents and profiles of Canadian activist organizations.
- The manifestos and statements on this page represent a diverse spectrum of radical voices from 1649 to the present. They are themselves a selection, a subset, of the larger collection of voices found in the Connexions Library, whose earliest document dates from 430 BCE. The bias is towards radical democratic socialist perspectives, but others have also been included. As a rule, Connexions does not consider that Leninist, structuralist, or post-modernist approaches fit our selection criteria, so few documents with those orientations will be found on the Connexions site.
- At present, only English-language documents are available; we hope to add documents in other languages in the future – and welcome help in making this happen.
- This page was compiled by Ulli Diemer. Comments and suggestions contact:
Donate or Volunteer
Selected Resources by