Points of Unity
This document articulates the method of analysis, vision, and strategy flexibly shared by members of the Organization for a Free Society (OFS), an association of grassroots organizers committed to building a movement for social revolution in the United States of America. Agreement with the following points is required for any individual applying for membership in OFS.
SECTION 1: METHOD OF ANALYSIS
I. Core Spheres of Social Life
Based on our analysis of social relations in the U.S., there are at least four core spheres of social life set within the broader international and ecological context: politics (legislation, implementation, and adjudication), economics (production, allocation, and consumption), kinship (procreation, nurturance, socialization, gender, sexuality, and organization of daily home life), and community (development of collectively shared historical identities, culture, religion, spirituality, linguistic relations, lifestyles, and social celebrations).
II. The Human Center and Institutional Boundary
The human center is the collection of people who live within a society, including their needs, powers, personalities, skills, and consciousness. The institutional boundary consists of a society’s particular interconnected roles. These roles serve to structure and coordinate social activity, as well as the material objects that exist within society. We fulfill institutional roles in order to participate and be accepted as members of society. Revolutionary consciousness – the desire and will to transform social relations – is formed through the dynamic interplay between the human center and institutional boundary.
III. Complementary Holism
An analysis of contemporary society and its historical development is incomplete and reductionist if it elevates one sphere of social life above all others, or seeks to understand the various spheres of social life separately. Rather, a conceptual framework appropriate to social intervention should attempt to understand the core characteristics of and interrelations between all spheres of social life. In other words, revolutionaries require a conceptual framework that recognizes autonomy within totality. We refer to this method of analysis as complementary holism: holism informs us that reality’s many parts act together to form an entwined whole, while complementarity informs us that the parts which compose the whole interrelate to help define one another, even though each may appear to have an independent existence. Complementary holism aims to identify agents of social transformation through empirical investigation of a social group’s historical position within an institutional setting.
IV. Accommodation and Co-Definition
We use the concepts of “accommodation” and “co-definition” to assess the stabilizing and destabilizing forces of a society. These concepts provide insight in order to modify, change, or revolutionize social forces. In order for there to be social stability, accommodation between spheres is necessary. In other words, the relationships in a given sphere bend so as not to contradict the relationships of another sphere. For example, economic roles may accommodate society’s sexist gender roles and racist hierarchies, placing men in positions above women, and whites above people of color. Co-definition is different from accommodation in that social stability is achieved through multiple spheres “co-defining” one another. For example, economic roles are not entirely determined by class divisions – economic roles are also defined through the political, kinship, or community spheres. This may produce a situation in which the roles in a workplace incorporate a sexual division of labor that cannot be explained only in economic terms, but can be understood as a manifestation of sexism.
SECTION 2: VISION
We want a participatory polity.
We reject all forms of authoritarian political rule. We believe a participatory democracy can be attained through:
• Democratic media and an education system that aims to raise consciousness and spread knowledge of history and contemporary social issues.
• Federations of grassroots participatory councils in which people have a say in political decisions proportionate to the degree that they are affected.
• Transparent mechanisms for the implementation and assessment of decisions.
• Institutions that offer maximum civil liberties, including freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, association, and dissent.
• The promotion of diversity so individuals and groups may pursue their own goals consistent with the values of a participatory polity and not in interference with the same rights accorded to others.
• Institutions that fairly, peacefully, and constructively adjudicate disputes and deal with the violations of social norms and laws in accordance with the pursuit of justice and rehabilitation.
• Supporting all community members in solving problems and exploring possibilities to ensure that there are no political hierarchies that privilege some citizens at the expense of others.
We want a participatory economy.
We reject capitalism and authoritarian economic planning. We believe a classless participatory economy can be attained through:
• Social ownership of the means of production.
• Payment for effort and sacrifice, and in certain cases need.
• Workplace self-management in which workers have a say in decisions proportionate to the degree that they are affected.
• An equitable division of labor in which each worker enjoys conditions of work suitable for her or him to be sufficiently confident, informed, and empowered to participate effectively in decision-making, which includes having a socially average share of empowering tasks.
• A system of decentralized, participatory planning in which federated councils of workers and consumers cooperatively and efficiently negotiate inputs and outputs.
• Equitable access for all to quality education, housing, health care, food, water, sanitation, meaningful and dignified work, and the instruments and conditions for personal fulfillment.
• Employment of technology for the minimization or elimination of rote, boring, and dangerous work.
• Supporting all community members in solving problems and exploring possibilities to ensure that there are no economic hierarchies that privilege some at the expense of others.
We want feminist and egalitarian kinship relations.
We reject patriarchal, heterosexist, and authoritarian forms of procreation, nurturance, socialization, education, gender, sexuality, and the organization of daily home life. We believe liberating kinship relations can be attained through:
• The elimination of hierarchies within social institutions based on gender, sex, or sexuality.
• Affirm people’s right to identify and associate with the sex, gender, non-gender and form of sexuality that they see fit.
• Support equitable and diverse forms of relationships, family and housing arrangements and support people’s rights to live as they choose, so long as it is consensual for all parties and does not infringe on the rights of others.
• Creation of space for the exploration and affirmation of our sexuality.
• Minimize or eliminate the use of age-based designations, preferring non-arbitrary means for determining when an individual is old enough or youth enough to participate in certain social activities, or to receive certain benefits or privileges.
• Supporting all community members in solving problems and exploring possibilities to ensure that there are no sex, gender and sexual hierarchies that privilege some at the expense of others.
We want intercommunalist cultural relations.
We reject racist, jingoistic, ethnocentric and white supremacist forms of community organization. We believe intercommunalist cultural relations can be attained through:
• Ensuring the rights of individuals to have multiple cultural and social identities, recognizing the fluidity of identity and providing people with the space to change and transform.
• Explicitly recognizing that rights and values exist regardless of community identity, so that all people deserve liberty, solidarity, self-management, and equity, and so that while society protects all people’s right to affiliate freely and fosters diversity, its core values are universal.
• Guaranteeing free entry and exit to and from all communities in society including affirming that communities that do have free entry and exit can be under the complete self-determination of their members, so long as policies and actions do not conflict with society’s universal values and laws.
• Supporting all community members in solving problems and exploring possibilities to ensure that there are no hierarchies that privilege some communities at the expense of others.
V. International Relations
We want a global political and economic system characterized by autonomy within solidarity.
We reject imperialism in all of its manifestations: colonialism, neo-colonialism, and neo-liberalism. We aim to dismantle a global political and economic system that sustains and perpetuates the political, economic, and cultural dominance and exploitation of the Global South by the Global North.
We uphold internationalism and believe a new world system can be attained through:
• Supporting the right of oppressed nations and cultural communities to self-determination.
• The promotion of regional and local autonomy (political, economic, and cultural), while maintaining international cooperation and peace.
• Presenting alternatives to political and economic institutions and agreements that systematically perpetuate poverty, misery, and social conflict.
• Establishing self-managed social reconstruction programs, including reparations for people who have been systematically robbed and oppressed by colonialism and imperialism.
• Development of a classless society on a worldwide scale through a system of participatory and cooperative allocation and the elimination of the division of labor that is characteristic of imperialism.
• The fostering of dialogue and exchange between the people of the world and supporting the free movement of peoples.
• Supporting all nations in solving problems and exploring possibilities to ensure that there are no political, social and economic hierarchies that privilege some nations at the expense of others.
We want a form of social organization that promotes environmental sustainability.
We reject modes of economic organization that systematically exploit, pollute, and pillage the natural environment and guarantee ecological collapse.
We believe a sustainable ecology can be achieved through:
• Systematically organizing society with the understanding that as human beings we are part of a greater whole – a living and breathing world that is mutually dependent and connected.
• Dramatically reducing pollution and waste, improving the mechanisms of local self-reliance, abolishing nuclear power and weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, and biological), and pursuing alternative forms of sustainable energy.
• Building institutions that take into account the ecological costs and benefits of economic and social choices, including their impact on communities and future generations.
• Building institutions that allow individuals and communities to make informed decisions about levels of production and consumption, duration of work, self-reliance, energy use, and agriculture.
• Respecting and protecting the cultural and spiritual ties that communities share with the natural environment.
• Supporting all community members in solving problems and exploring possibilities to ensure environmental sustainability.
SECTION 3: STRATEGY
I. Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!
If we are to consider ourselves revolutionaries, then we must take seriously the task of transforming society’s dominant values and governing institutions. Our strategic, programmatic, and tactical choices must be made carefully based on our long-term visionary objectives, as well as an analysis of the balance of forces (the strength of the system vs. the strength of the revolutionary movement).
II. Hegemony and Counter-Hegemony
The concept of hegemony allows us to understand and explain how people are induced to consent and participate within a system that results in their oppression and exploitation. Hegemony refers to a set of dominant beliefs, behaviors, roles, and forms of consciousness that rationalize and justify a particular set of values and institutions. On the other hand, the concept of counter-hegemony allows us to breakdown and dismantle widely accepted ideas that legitimize the existing social order. Counter-hegemony refers to a systematic ideological and institutional struggle waged by a popular revolutionary movement whose objective is to dismantle oppressive roles, behaviors, and forms of consciousness and establish new forms of social organization within the shell of the old society.
III. Dual Power
To establish a counter-hegemonic bloc, revolutionaries must create a dual power situation in which grassroots organizations and institutions (political and economic councils, tenants’ associations, cooperatives, liberation schools, cultural centers, etc.) undermine the power and legitimacy of the established social order and challenge the ruling elites for hegemony. A dual power situation is inherently unstable, and it is the objective of a revolutionary organization to both assist in creating and expanding such a situation, and to ensure that it is consolidated and stabilized on the side of the revolution. This process is prefigurative, as it foreshadows the values and institutional forms of the future in the present.
IV. Reform or Revolution?
While establishing grassroots organizations and institutions capable of challenging elites for power is of the utmost importance, we must also fight together with people in their struggles to transform the conditions of their day-to-day existence within the confines of the present system. Reformists view a change within the existing social system as an end-in-itself, while revolutionaries view reform struggles as one step towards the radical transformation of our society’s dominant values and governing institutions. A reform can be characterized as “non-reformist” if it:
• Addresses the needs that people currently experience.
• Propels the development of revolutionary consciousness.
• Empowers people to continue to seek further gains.
• Galvanizes people to win sought gains and simultaneously advance the encompassing broader program it is a component of.
V. Taking Power
Taking political power through an electoral victory or popular uprising should always seek to:
• Raise consciousness through education.
• Actively expand democratic control over social institutions.
• Increase popular participation in decision-making.
• Erode the foundations upon which the old society stood through redistributive programs.
• Utilize the resources at the state’s disposal to lay the foundations of the new society, thereby creating the preconditions for the continuous de-centering and dismantling of the state.
Given that the complete displacement of the old society solely through the expansion of grassroots organizations and institutions is unlikely, it is necessary for revolutionaries to use the state as a political weapon to assist popular movements in the dismantling of authoritarianism, capitalism, patriarchy, heteronormativity, white supremacy, and imperialism