Revolutionary Movement and Communalism

Land usurped by the Chilean State,

Liberación, Fall 2023

I. The commune, the foundation of a revolutionary project

The first issue that the concept of Communal Democracy[1] invites us to think about theoretically and politically is the issue of the commune. We conceive of the commune, historically, as a social organizational phenomenon with revolutionary potential. This means that we understand the commune, as a general concept, as a form of social organization capable of, given certain historical conditions that go beyond the specific commune in particular, driving and integration massive, extensive, autonomous popular movements with fighting power and common political goals of a revolutionary and transformative character.

The experience of communes, the commons and community is present throughout the entirety of human history, through to the present day. Among our historical and political references, we take into account the long history of community organization of social life in the world, and, particularly in the Latin-American continent, the experience of various indigenous peoples many centuries prior to the emergence of European conquest, which remain today in multiple regions with hundreds of peoples and millions of individuals; the strength and fighting capacity of autonomist and revolutionary sectors of the Mapuche people, organized communally and putting in practice a strategy of direct action to reclaim Wallmapu[2]; or the struggles for liberation currently being fought in Kurdistan in Asia and by sectors of certain indigenous peoples who live on the lands occupied by the Mexican State in Chiapas and beyond, known as the Zapatista movement. The above are just a few political and historical references that outline the direction of a revolutionary emancipatory project.

The potential of the commune to overcome the capitalist, patriarchal and colonial social regime comes primarily from its historical character, ancestral origin, and concrete and practical capacity to produce social relations in opposition to those of the aforementioned regime.

The communal organizational phenomenon constitutes the substance of the civilizational foundations that are, at the same time, predecessors and successors of the process of destruction and dismantling of capitalist economic and political machinery. This can be explained, on the one hand, on the basis of the forms of communal social organization historically developed in practically all regions of the world, which have certain common cultural patterns that conceive of existence in a global manner, in a holistic link between human and animal and natural life, allowing for the emergence and development of multiple territorial identities, the realization of diverse and versatile productive, recreational and artistic activities, not subjected to the capitalist specialization derived from the division of labor and the race for value, profit and accumulation.

The previously mentioned features, which constitute the foundations of a social form of life, are in frontal opposition to those inherent to the capitalist mode of production and its consequent social organization. For the communal social organization, based on what has been and continues to be its millenary historical development, we can maintain that a rationality of preservation and vital balance of existence as a whole, human, natural and animal, prevails. On the other hand, for the dominion of capital, that logic is suppressed by the irrationality of accumulation and development – of infinite and, as such, unsustanable aspiration – of capital itself, against nature, the earth, all species and the human mass. Thus, the argument according to which we postulate the revolutionary power of the commune is neither naturalistic nor essentialist, but historical, based on the current possibility of outlining a world endowed with a view that places at the center the preservation and free development of all lives, of the environment in which they live and the interaction and holistic and universal integration of all elements.

Of course, when we speak of the commune, we are thinking of the emergence of new historical processes, not of any kind of traditional retreat into the past or of a romantic and illusory vision of the past. Plainly stated, we take a perspective oriented towards new historical processes based on the simplification of life, human reintegration with natural life, animal life and the whole of existence, and the reestablishment of sustainable forms of life and social organization, in a historical context where the capitalist mode of production has generated a socio-environmental and climate crisis that places humanity before the certain possibility of extinction within a short period of time, along with the partial or complete extinction of multiple species that inhabit this planet. In this context, we do not hesitate to point out that revolution and communism come to pose the only possible alternative of life in the face of the concrete dilemma between survival and the end of existence -at least human existence. As such, if a radical, revolutionary change is not quickly carried out, namely halting the capitalist productive system and implementing radically different global ways of life, based, as we were saying, on the simplification of existence.

Such historical perspectives are similar to the fruit born from a branch, coming from a trunk supported by deep roots, originated and developed in the past. In reality, it is not necessary to invent the root, nor the trunk, nor the branches, nor even the fruit itself. Basically -this is part of the strategic dimension of the project-, it is necessary to eliminate the capitalism that poisons the soil where the root lives, in order to allow and facilitate the sprouting of fruits everywhere.


II. A rupture with the hegemonic socialist tradition

It is important to emphasize, that this vision of a revolutionary political project is fully opposed to what has been, concretely, the experiences of socialist transition or transition to socialism during the twentieth century and also, in some ways, the twenty-first century. In the sense that, fundamentally, such projects have been based on the advacement of capital itself, industrial development, that is, processes of expansion, technification and industrial technologization, the maximum of economic growth under a logic of accumulation, commodities and the fundamental categories of the market, the law of value, the exploitation of labor, alienated labor and, consequently, the alienation of societies and people, the destruction of the environment, the reproduction of class contradictions, class struggles, social inequalities and relations of social oppression, the social division of labor, the sexual division of labor, among other historical effects derived from the fact that capitalism has continued to reproduce itself from the very cells of the social organism as a whole, fully preserving the character of the commodity and thus prolonging capitalist development in all the aforementioned spheres.

To corroborate this claim, it is enough to review the most relevant experiences of socialism during the 20th century, the USSR and China, plus all the nations and economies annexed to their regional domain. As well as some of the experiences of the 21st century, such as Venezuela and Bolivia, which do not escape the phenomenon just described. Cuba has certainly been historically one of the most consistent efforts to subvert these programmatic orientations, without detriment to the fact that today it is seriously cornered and subsumed by capitalism and imperialism. It is not the place and it is impossible for us in this outline to analyze in detail the referred processes, so we simply state the basic hypothesis. Basically, the point is that the core contents of a revolutionary project arise from the basis of a review of history. Specifically, from the history of the socialist revolutions or of transition to socialism, a question that is not consciously and critically considered most of the time that revolutionary sectors refer to the question of the current revolutionary project, from and for the present historical conditions.

The development of a revolutionary project in the current period, we repeat, in the face of imminent of socio-environmental and planetary collapse, requires radical criticism and opposition to these notions of socialism or socialist transition, which have consistently demonstrated their failure and unviability for the purpose of concretely overcoming capitalist, patriarchal and colonial domination. What we are reflecting on, sensibly and humbly, is intended as revolutionary alternatives not only in the face of the crisis of the capitalist system and its direction towards the ravine of history, but also in the face of the disastrous crisis of the revolutionary alternatives of the previous century, which invariably led to a perpetuation – albeit unsuccessful and less competitive – of the domination of capital, class society and social oppressions.


III. About the historical conditions of a revolutionary political process

Finally, we give an account of some historical and political conditions that must be developed and present in a given historical process, so that the commune expresses a currently revolutionary capacity, i.e., a revolutionary power. Otherwise, in the absence or weakness of certain historical and political conditions, the commons or commune can perfectly well be assimilated and coexist with the regime of exploitation and capitalist domination or with other new non-emancipatory social regimes.

a) The dissemination of similar concrete experiences, which multiply in different territories and localities, usually in an accelerated, intense, uncontainable manner, forming part of a wave or flow of popular self-organization and class confrontation. The relevance of this phenomenon has to do with that massive and extensive flow that accounts for an open and direct scenario of class struggle. Therefore, those popular organizations and territorial experiences that remain isolated, without prospects of expanding or reproducing and without attending to historical processes beyond their narrow perimeter, reduced to a micro-local scope of relevance, do not truly represent a force with the potential to transform social reality.

b) The decantation of a historical project consciously undertaken by the most dynamic social sectors of the revolutionary movement. This means that, at least the most vigorous social sectors, active and ready to fight in a popular movement[3], which we call revolutionary social force, must share a generic notion of the great programmatic purpose -a revolution, a communist process- and of the general strategic path to be followed to achieve it -direct and radical confrontation of all peoples against the reactionary forces that hold the interests of the bourgeois class-.

c) The articulation of that revolutionary political project, territorially and among larger territories or regions. It is not possible to outline perspectives of advancement and maturation of a revolutionary political project from territorial localities that do not express the political capacity to unite mobilization forces, resources, communications, coordinated initiatives, productive activities, solidarity networks, etc. This means that, in practice, our political project is based on the articulation of working class solidarity and solidarity between peoples, materialized in the development and growth of popular organization.

d) The development of material capacity for confrontation among all sectors of all peoples. It is necessary to develop a process of escalation of the material capacity for self-defense and confrontation against repressive forces, in all parts of a region or a group of territories. The strategic aspect, at this point, passes centrally through the phenomena of legitimacy and popular validation of the forms of direct and radical struggle and, consequently, their massification and generalization.

e) It is necessary to foster something like a revolutionary communal movement, integrated by innumerable revolutionary communes throughout the length and breadth of a great territorial dimension. The strategic centrality is in the conception of a revolutionary movement, as we have said, grouped according to certain revolutionary purposes, massive, extensive, generalizable, with fighting power and rooted in the territorial and communal basis, organized in communes, endowed with a communal or community character. Of course, this type of revolutionary movement is already a communist movement, a communist project, whose purpose is to realize a communal way of life, in the present, in an expansive and generalized way.

f) In turn, the strategic dimension of this historical movement is continental and intercontinental. It goes from the territorial-local, to the territory occupied by the Nation-State, to the sub-regional and regional territories at the continental and intercontinental level. In this context, we conceive this project in the programmatic sense of a Latin American Revolution, which, necessarily, must be articulated and developed organizationally on the scales indicated.

Expand and strengthen the Revolutionary Communal Movement!

For Communism and Freedom!



[1] The reference to the concept of Communal Democracy is situated in the framework of our participation in the International Network for Communal Democracy, a tool for political and popular coordination between different territories across the world, among which are Euskal Herria, Catalunya, Kurdistan, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina, Chile and Brazil. It is in this organizational context, where we have put forward and become part of diverse public instances to discuss and coagulate politically in the Chilean region, that we have created this resource for collective debate.

[2] Wallmapu refers to the ancestral lands of the Mapuche people, currently occupied the Chilean and Argentinean States.

[3] Massive, popular, and not exclusively dominated by political organizations or groups.

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