Public statement from IFA Congress Saint-Imier 2012, 9-12th August to other exploited and oppressed people of the World

Public statement from IFA Congress Saint-Imier 2012, 9-12th August to other exploited and oppressed people of the World.

The St. Imier meeting has enabled a lot of groups and militants that are members and non-members of the International of Anarchist Federations (IAF-IFA) to meet each other. IFA would like to sum up the events of the last few days.

One hundred and forty years ago in this town an international movement of ‘anti-authoritarians’ was founded. It played a major part in the creation of an organised movement of anarchists. They worked then for profound social transformation, and in this manner we have participated, as IFA, in the international meeting in St-Imier. What we have to offer is the best sort of society that humanity is capable of achieving. We want to create a world in which there is complete economic equality, by which we mean that there should be no personal property but that we produce and own everything communally, with no need for money.

But as well as economic equality, there would be maximum personal freedom. This means that we live as we want and no one can make us do anything we don’t want to do, or prevent us from doing what we want to do unless this limits the freedom of others. So, there would be no hierarchy or oppression of any kind. There would be no need for a state or police because we would not need controlling or coercing. There would be no need for wars or global conflict because we would have no political enemies and no desire or need to seize any resources from anyone else. This is what we call Anarchism.

Anarchists reject the idea that it is human nature that one personal exploits another and that we are unequal. It is the case that rulers and states throughout history have maintained this system. This lie justifies Capitalism as a ‘natural’ system. We hear that there is a ‘crisis’ of Capitalism, but Capitalism is crisis. It is a recent system in historical terms and has already brought humanity to its knees many times before producing the current situation. But people all over the World are seeing through this lie and are resisting states and capitalism as never before and seek to coordinate their efforts across national boundaries. This makes an anarchist society more possible than ever.

But Anarchism is not utopianism. Obviously, for such a society to work, many things must first change, and our task now is to help bring about these vast transformations and provide an analysis that is useful to them. The working class, by which we mean all exploited and impoverished people, ourselves amongst them, has to operate as a mass movement. Crucially, it must not entrust the struggle to new leaders with old ideas, but by determining its own path.

Today, social movements are practising new ways of organising which draw heavily on anarchism, for example taking action directly against obstacles to their progress and experimenting with non-hierarchical organisational forms. They include student movements, action against destruction of the natural world and common resources, anti-militarist struggles, those against G8 summits and capitalism in general, and most recently the fight against austerity which unites the international working class. Movements such as Occupy and the Indignados and similar movements of self-organisation against the banking system have shown the importance of using direct action to reclaim public space. The uprisings of oppressed indigenous peoples in recent decades, such as the Zapatistas, have inspired the new social movements and have influenced anarchism itself. Such new movements create large assemblies to make decisions together without leaders. They practice horizontal decision-making. They link-up federally, as organisations of equal status without decision-making bodies at their centre.

But these attempts often fall short of what is possible because meaningful social change requires also that we change as individuals. We seek to be free and equal as individuals, but there must also be voluntary, personal responsibility and self-organisation. The working class itself contains divisions and oppressions and hierarchies which do not disappear just because we want to have no rulers and want to be equal. As members of the working class we therefore struggle internally against our own racism, sexism and patriarchal attitudes and practices. Equally we fight the assumption that heterosexuality is the norm, or that clearly defined categories ‘male’ and ‘female’ are ‘normal’. We must identify and oppose discrimination and stereotyping on the basis of age or ability. Until internalised inequalities and deference towards hierarchy are identified and abolished we cannot be free, and so we identify and oppose them in social movements and workers organisations as well as in society in general.

Finally, to create this free and equal society, the working class itself must bring down rulers and capital. We call this a ‘social revolution’. Anarchists try to build confidence within the working class in our ability to be successful as quickly and with the least violence possible. We do this through joining with other workers to win small victories. We do this best through direct action not through reforms and negotiation with bosses. Direct action means not waiting but taking what should belong to all of us. We need to support each other’s struggles through mutual aid. This means practical solidarity in times of hardship. As well as helping us on a day-to-day basis, this demonstrates to people what we are about. So we practice anarchy now as far as we can in how we organise and how we struggle to prove that an anarchist society is possible.

We salute those comrades from the past, their work and the personal sacrifices they made for human emancipation. We continue their work, and critically develop their ideas and apply them to our situation. They would in turn salute the global working class at this point in its history, as it strives for real freedom and equality.

IFA has dealt with many themes over the last 5 days and in particular:

  • The economic crisis and social struggle
  • International solidarity
  • Anti-militarism
  • Anti-nuclear and alternative energies
  • Migration

On this basis, the IFA has reinvigorated its own activities and invite all exploited people to struggle for transformation of society, for anarchism.

The International of Anarchist Federations (IAF-IFA), 12th August 2012.

German translation:

Öffentliche Stellungnahme des IFA-Kongresses in St. Imier vom 9. bis zum 12. August 2012 – German version

Spanish translation:

Declaración pública de la IFA el Congreso de Saint-Imier 2012, del 9 al 12 de agosto a otras personas explotadas y oprimidas del mundo.

See also: Regional press videos of the St. Imier events and a scanned newpaper article (in French):

Video 1:

Video 2:

Positive local press (reporting on summing up of gathering and also about Japanese contingent):