What is 'self-organisation'?
Listen to anarchists for long enough, and you'll hear us praising the 'self-organisation' of various movements or groups and insisting that political activity needs to be more 'self-organised'. But what does this mean? Why is this important?
It can be an odd-sounding term, but basically 'self-organisation' is doing stuff without relying on or waiting for external leadership or a central authority. A 'self-organised' movement doesn't wait for parties, unions, or whatever leader, to give it orders. A 'self-organised' group isn't controlled from the top-down. Self-organisation – like a related idea, 'self-management' – is at the core of anarchism. It makes us more effective, and gives us an opportunity to practice real democracy.
The last 30 years in Latin America have seen the introduction of neo-liberal policies - structural adjustment programmes, austerity measures, a shift from the industrialisation and "internal accumulation" model to one that favours promiscuous financial capital, free trade agreements and an increasing economic dependency of the region on the USA. As usual, the people have suffered the worst part of these policies - high levels of unemployment and depression of wages and the standard of living. People's most immediate and basic needs were expendable when it came to the real priorities of local governments: the payment of the fraudulent external debt & the maintenance of high levels of profits for both the local and the foreign bosses.
The capitalist crisis saw the closure of Greek Radio-Television (ERT) but workers not only resisted they took ERT into collective self management and continued broadcasting. 21 months after its closure the striking workers still ran 17 radio stations (15 regional, two national) and a single TV channel (ET3).
The translation of the texts below has been sent to us by Thanasis, a worker at the ERT and outline how the workers restructured ERT and what they want Syriza to respect if funding is returned.
Thanasis writes " Actually, and in simple words, they fired us but we never left the building and of course we never took an advance to earn money (publicity etc) respecting the fact that all these buldings and technical stuff belong to the Greek people. The new government after having recognized our struggle decided to re-open the Public Radio-television. Lets hope they will also incorporate our ideas, those we fought for over the last 2 years. What you will read is not a dream. Is what we already do everyday and we simply propose it for the future. "
Na Croisbhealai workers-co-op is the latest centre to emerge in Belfast along with the Warzone centre providing a practical example of workers self-management in action. Located in the city centre the café offers a space to organise and agitate under every shade of the political left, and a delicious international cuisine from all corners of the globe courtesy of its chef Hugh Corcoran. In the same building is Fresh Claim photography hosting a range of impressive photos and colourful portraits from conflict zones across the world including the recent ’troubles’ in Ireland. Below is an interview with Jack Corcoran from the collective who talks about how it organises without bosses and its role in building a better society for all.
The factory committees appeared in Petrograd and Moscow around February/March of 1917, and quickly spread. Elected directly by the workers in each enterprise, they appear initially to have formed in a response to theatened closures, and to press for the 8-hour day, though the scope of their demands would soon extend. But by 1918 they were being suppressed by the new Bolshevik government.