POINTS OF UNITY
The Organization for a Free Society (OFS)
1. Naming The System: Global Imperialism
The history of human societies reveals a complex matrix of interlocking institutions, with corresponding forms of consciousness, organization, and activity among people, and a socially-mediated relationship with our environment. Gradually, institutional hierarchies between oppressor and oppressed evolved on the basis of sex, gender, sexuality, ability, age, class, citizenship, race, nationality, ethnicity, and religion. From these oppressive hierarchies, a global social system emerged, built upon the structures of heteropatriarchy, capitalism, white supremacy, and the authoritarian state. We call this system imperialism, emphasizing its intersectional and global character.
The imperialist system is characterized by an extreme polarization of wealth and power between a few rich and controlling centers, and an impoverished and subordinate periphery overwhelmingly composed of super-exploited working class people of color, especially women and youth. Geographically, this center-periphery divide manifests itself between the imperialist corporations and states of the Global North, including the USA, Western Europe, and Japan, and the oppressed peoples of the Global South, including the continents of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. However, even within the borders of the imperialist and peripheral states, center-periphery divisions are reproduced based on localized structures that reflect global dynamics. This is exemplified by the relentless oppression of indigenous communities and working class communities of color within the USA, whose grassroots struggles against environmental destruction, police occupation, mass incarceration, gentrification, and super-exploitation are at the frontline of resistance in the belly of the beast.
Imperialism has deepened the ecological crisis, unleashed genocidal wars, and subjected the overwhelming majority of humanity and all other species to horrific misery in its ongoing accumulation of profit, and the continuing expansion of privilege and control for an elite few. The global 1% will never voluntarily relinquish their power: the imperialist system must be overthrown, abolished, and ultimately transcended by the revolutionary struggle of the people.
Having entered entered a period of crisis, imperialism has awoken not only its revolutionary opposition (socialism), but also its most extreme defender (fascism). The legions of fascism seek to violently restore the alleged supremacy of the “white race” by resurrecting their dying empire. To accomplish this goal, fascists will imprison, deport, enslave, or murder those deemed dangerous and inferior. Fascism will only prolong imperialism’s lifespan through intensified repression, war, super-exploitation, and cultural homogenization. To meet the challenges posed by imperialism’s crisis and fascism’s resurgence, we need a popular revolutionary movement with a shared analysis, vision, and strategy that can unite the multitude of oppressed people, rally humanity to freedom’s banner, and finally confront and defeat global imperialism and fascism.
2. There Is An Alternative: Participatory Socialism
Throughout history, two legacies have competed to define human society: freedom and oppression. The legacy of oppression has sought to limit human potential, enriching the few at the expense of the many, whereas the legacy of freedom has sought to liberate the creative potential of the human species, expanding our control over the decisions that impact our lives, making democracy, justice, and sustainability the pillars of our social existence, and ensuring the free development of each person as the condition for the free development of all. To reclaim this legacy of freedom, we advance a vision of participatory socialism: a classless, stateless society without borders, beyond racial and gender binaries, a social system built upon the foundation of a socialized productive commons, ecological balance achieved through environmental stewardship, cooperative economics, direct democracy, bodily autonomy, gender and sexual diversity, intercommunal solidarity, egalitarian partnerships and families, and the free municipal commune as the center of urban social life. The participatory socialist vision has deep historical roots in the liberation movements of the past and present, from the Paris Commune of 1871 to the Rojava Revolution today.
We believe that all people should have control of the decisions that impact our lives, and share responsibility for the collective stewardship of the resources upon which we depend. We believe that important social decisions in the spheres of economy, polity, community, and kinship should be made by participatory councils: popular democratic assemblies that enable direct engagement of the people in solving socio-ecological problems, delegating various tasks and responsibilities, and adjudicating disputes. These participatory councils could be formed in every social institution, and coordinate interrelated activities by means of free association, or federation. These federated councils are the foundation of the participatory socialist system, and would allow a diversity of opinions, programs, projects, and policies to flourish.
We believe all people have a right to an irreducible minimum including shared access to the basic necessities of life, such as clean water, nutritious food, comprehensive healthcare, durable and spacious dwellings, meaningful and empowering work, self-directed education, and a beautiful and safe environment in which to live, love, work, and play. The realization of this irreducible minimum is a precondition for any meaningful expansion of freedom and for the complete abolition of all oppressive social hierarchies.
We fight for a free life for all people of all countries. In every workplace, neighborhood, school, prison, slum, ghetto, trailer park, shantytown, and bedroom, we raise the banner of freedom. We believe everyone deserves a better life than we are presently afforded, and that together we have the knowledge and resources necessary to achieve a free society.
3. Our Path To Freedom: Protracted Revolutionary Struggle
The problems that face humanity and our environment are global, but solutions to our most pressing problems must begin at the local level. From within our communities, we need to build the power of the people against the power of global imperialism that serves only to benefit and enrich a small ruling elite. Our organization exists to make revolution, to function as a catalyst, assistant, and guide. Only with a strong revolutionary cadre organization that unites committed activists behind a common ideological platform and program of action, while providing maximum autonomy for the local branches and collectives to assess their own environment, priorities, and forms of action within this framework, can we build and defend a free life for all people.
Historical experience has shown that autonomous liberation struggles of diverse oppressed social groups will be central to the revolutionary transformation of society. United, this multitude of oppressed people are strategically positioned to change society: from bedroom to barrio, farm to factory, it is the oppressed who have consistently created forms of freedom that could constitute the foundation of a free society. Revolutionaries must uphold, defend, and accelerate the development of these new movements and institutions, fight against all attempts at containment and suppression by the forces of reaction, and work to deepen and maintain solidarity with revolutionary struggles internationally, as only a global movement of movements can confront and finally defeat imperialism.
Social revolution is not a singular moment or event, but an ongoing process. The protracted revolutionary struggle begins with gathering of forces at the base of society, building the power of the people through grassroots social movements, alternative institutions, and popular defense forces, and eventually creating a united front with the critical mass needed to overthrow and abolish the imperialist system, subsequently leading the construction of participatory socialism from below. At the beginning of this process, revolutionaries will be absorbed with laying the groundwork for the next phase of struggle: much of our initial work will entail developing popular survival programs based on mutual aid, fighting for limited non-reformist reforms that improve people’s lives while emboldening grassroots social movements to seek further gains, and raising the consciousness of the people through popular education that fosters a perspective informed by global solidarity and ecology. While not yet directly challenging the system for power, survival programs, non-reformist reforms, and popular education are central to breaking imperialism’s hegemony and winning the people to the cause of social revolution.
As grassroots social movements and alternative institutions proliferate, and the old society sinks deeper into crisis, the space will be created for the new society to emerge. Revolutionaries must work to transform emergent resistance zones where grassroots social movements, alternative institutions, and popular defense forces arise to challenge and undermine the imperialist system’s hegemony and policies with increasing success, into liberated zones where the core institutions of participatory socialism begin to take root. As this revolutionary counterpower deepens connections with the people and grows in territorial reach, an uprising led by the united front will be capable of overthrowing and abolishing the old society, thereby establishing a free territory based on a revolutionary counterstate. This new mode of democratic self-administration based on the infrastructure initially built by the united front will lead the process of social reconstruction from below in accordance with the principles of participatory socialism, defending the social revolution against the forces of counter-revolution, and laying the foundations for the emergence of a stateless free society on a global scale.
5. Revolution in the Belly of the Beast: Building a New America
Our organization is based within the imperialist USA, and our responsibility as revolutionaries is to develop a strategy and program appropriate to this challenging context. The USA is not a democracy, but an imperialist garrison state committed to maintaining and intensifying global exploitation at the expense of billions of human lives and the planet itself, unleashing endless genocidal wars, and suppressing the power of the people through a variety of social control mechanisms, including mass surveillance, mass incarceration, militarized policing, and media censorship. The future of this territory belongs to the multitude of oppressed people: millions of workers, women, queer and trans people, indigenous people and people of color, migrants and refugees, people with disabilities, students, youth, and elders.
Throughout North American history, grassroots struggles have arisen from frontline communities to advance the cause of freedom: from Indigenous First Nations defending their communities and land against settler-colonial occupation to New Afrikans liberating themselves from the shackles of slavery, from the Industrial Workers of the World to the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, from Wounded Knee to Standing Rock, from the Black Panthers to Black Lives Matter, we have an incredible people’s history from which to draw inspiration. Building upon this historical legacy, it is possible to envision a New America based on intercommunal solidarity, with many autonomous communities – including Indigenous First Nations, New Afrikans, Xicanxs, Puertorriqueñxs, Pacific Islanders, Europeans, and peoples from the many communities and nations of the world, especially Africa, Asia, and Latin America – united by a participatory socialist federation that actualizes global democracy, justice, and sustainability. We envision a New America that makes a concrete contribution to ending the great divide between the Global North and Global South through policies of reparations and restitution, aiding the process of building a new world and new historical legacy for humanity.
We recognize the tremendous obstacles to making social revolution within the imperialist USA, as white supremacy keeps so many white Euro-Americans psychologically and materially invested in perpetuating a form of imperialism, however meager the benefits they may receive. Nonetheless, it is likely that the crisis of imperialism will continue to deepen, and events such as war, climate change, reproletarianization, and immiseration of large segments of the Global North’s population will present important opportunities to be seized by revolutionaries in the belly of the beast. It is our duty to break all forms of social chauvinism that continue to link large numbers of people to the interests of imperialism, building the nucleus of a revolutionary movement now that will be capable of seizing future opportunities to further the ultimate goal of liberation.
Within the confines of the imperialist USA, we work for the complete democratization of social life through the construction of a mass revolutionary movement that builds grassroots people’s assemblies to self-manage social life, inciting the multitude of oppressed people to seize power from below and engage in the process of collectively determining the social priorities of our communities, building cooperative economic infrastructure, sustainable agriculture, green renewable energy, and reappropriating our social power through non-reformist reforms that target mass incarceration, mass surveillance, and police occupation, and develop community-based forms of defense and security that rely upon democratic conflict resolution and restorative justice. From these initial projects, we can envision the emergence of a growing movement that extends democracy far beyond the confines of the present, taking participatory councils as its most basic unit, and creating free municipal communes that federate throughout the territory. With this strong foundation, we can envision the realization of a participatory socialist North America that finally takes its place at the table of peace and freedom, sharing the fruits of our creative labor within a diverse community of communities inhabiting the Americas, belonging to a common humanity and planet.