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Sponsorships, Affinity-based vetting and recruiting

2020-04-09 Metro Manila, Philippines

I'm writing this as a quick guide to screening people one might invite to the anarchist collective, since we seem to have an issue at the present where some reactionary elements have entered nominally Anarchist spaces. Not to mention the threat of entryism by those in the Maoist-aligned National Democratic movement. The information here is a synthesis of conversations I've had with other organizers, written records of existing anarchist organizations and as well as my own experiences having to organize spaces for planning and action, however small they may be.

Map out your social circles

I've been told once by some autonomist organizers based in the US that as long as you have a neighbor, you have another possible comrade. They were talking in the context of organizing a rent strike, of course, but I think it could be generalized further. All of us over the course of our lives have met and formed various relationships with different types of people. And with social media allowing us to record our thoughts on certain issues, gauging people's general political tendencies is easier than ever.

Maybe it's just my poor memory, but I prefer having an actual list of people to watch out for. A local file on my computer rather than one on google docs or some other online platform, it has too much sensitive info to keep on the cloud safely. Some might prefer to write it down and bypass electronics completely, and more power to them. I just happen to be in front of a terminal most of my waking hours.

Going back, this is important because this provides you with a map of people within your life that could potentially help you with the things you might want to organize in the future.

Things to take note of:

  • Name (could be an online handle, or just a number)

  • Relation to yourself

  • Stance on key issues (see example below)

  • Relation to counterrevolutionary forces (see below)

  • Relation to future potential invites

All the above could be kept on some type of record like I mentioned above, or if you are truly paranoid, all in your head.

Probe their positions on key issues

Remember that a conversation is a give and take. Make sure that whenever they make a response that seems counter to yours, that you acknowledge why that would seem reasonable in their circumstances. This would mean having a lot of patience and understanding. This is also a good reason why we should start with people within our social circles, our friends, family, workmates, etc. Because we could at least have some level of respect, understanding and affection for them. Pretty difficult to keep your patience up for people you honestly don't care about. I know that we as radicals should care about all people, though some of my Egoist comrades might disagree with that, we have to admit that human compassion and patience is a limited resource. Best we use it on people we actually care about.

After acknowledging, that's when you then respond with your own answer. As much as you can, avoid technical or academic jargon especially if the person you're talking to doesn't have a background in radical politics. Learn how to gauge the conversation and change the topic if need be when the discussion gets heated.

“Key Issues” will of course vary between collective to collective, but here's an example of one for a general anarchist collective:

  1. State Interference (via the police, the military, bureaucratic red tape, etc)

  2. Capitalist Oppression (alienation, labor issues, land reform, artificial scarcity)

  3. Environmental Decay (Anthropogenic Climate Change, megacorp abuse of resources)

  4. Gender Struggles (Heteropatriarchy, Transphobia, Homophobia)

Like what was mentioned earlier, one has to ask about these issues in a conversational manner. Maybe show them a news article related to what you are trying to ask about and start the conversation there.

But make sure to make it as conversational as possible. No one likes being asked these questions out of the blue. And talk about specific issues instead of wide-reaching abstract social ills. Make sure to let the person talk more, with you just asking to clarify what their points are and why they believe the way they do. A rough estimate is at least 80%/20% in the other person's favor.

Also, even though we're trying to make this conversational, it's still important to keep some basic interview pointers in mind:

  • Stay relevant

When you get the conversation going, make sure to stay on-topic. Circle back to the original topic if needed.

  • Ask open-ended questions

Allow them the space to explore their own ideas, and ask follow-up questions that can help clarify their position and why they have that position. Nuance is key.

  • Ask clear questions

Avoid asking vague questions that might confuse the person you're talking to, and rephrase questions as needed. Better to fumble and get the right question out, than to speak straight and ask unclear questions.

  • The questions are applicable to your Prospect

Make sure that the questions you ask your Prospect are those that they are in a position to have an opinion about.

Watch out for red flags

We want to keep our collectives and organizations inclusive, that's a given, however there are simply those who will do all that they can to see us fail. This is not to say they are horrible people outright, but some of them certainly are, but that it is in their material interests that we do not succeed.

People with those interests, and thus cannot be admitted into the collective, include but are not limited to:

  • Members of a Fascist and Ultranationalist Groups

  • Active members of Religious Fundamental Groups and Movements

  • Those in Active Duty in Law Enforcement, Prison Guards, etc, employed by the State or by a corporate entity.

  • Membership and/or Active duty in a private army.

  • Owns a business which employs other workers, legitimate or otherwise,

  • Officer of a Political Party

(adapted from the IWW's Bylaws, Membership section)

Similar to the section on probing for key issues, one also has to ascertain all of this by conversation. However, it's also a good thing that you could also do some research of your own based on their social media posts and, if you're able to pull it off, talking to their friends-of-friends. The goal is to find out whether or not they are involved with those groups mentioned above or if they are related to them in any way. If the latter is true, we also need to figure out if their relation to possible counterrevolutionary forces will put the collective in danger, or at the very least, hinder its operations.

Remember the 80%/20% rule, and let them talk more than you. Take note of important parts of their responses. At the end of the day, do not forget to update your map or dossier on them.

Gauge their willingness to act in a group

Say you're making headway with your potential prospect, when you're ready, begin floating the idea of getting more people involved, and how more could get done with more hands and minds put to any task you all might want to do as a response to what you've been talking about. Depending on their response, you could immediately skip to the next section and discuss your invite with the rest of your collective. If they respond negatively, it may be time to seriously reconsider going through with this, as even individualists understand the value of the occasional collective action when it suits their own purposes.

Just a quick reminder here to be careful about mistaking social anxiety with being unwilling to join a collective effort. One has to proceed with caution and avoid rushing to have them join the collective as being forced to participate may do them more harm than good. Perhaps introducing them to your comrades one at a time at different separate occasions may work better as opposed to meeting them all at once.

Discuss your possible invite with your collective

Like most things, run your prospective member by your comrades first. Describe them, the results of your vetting process with them and their political leanings and prior associates if you know of any or were able to uncover during the process. Describe whether or not they tend towards acting on their own or their willingness to work with the rest of the group. Present what skills or accomplishments this person has and how they might contribute to the collective.

Once everyone is comfortable with your potential invite, it's time to actually invite your prospect.

Invite, Introduce and Intensify


Here is where you make your prospect aware that you are part of an initiative that they may be interested in, based on your prior conversations about current events, or issues. Just give them enough details to be interested, and answer any questions that come up. Be careful at this stage, this might make or break your particular prospect's chance of getting introduced.

And as a matter of security, do not mention anything about any of your organization's underground activity. Your prospect has not made any commitments to you or the collective, and cannot be expected to keep a secret yet.


If your collective has a group-chat or other similar form of communication, this is when you add them into the conversation. This is where your other comrades need to contribute by welcoming them warmly and answering questions, keeping the conversation going, and keeping the tone casual. At this phase, the invite is basically on probation and the full members of the collective need to monitor the newbie. This is of course the main responsibility of the invite's sponsor, but the other members of the collective might have some prior experiences and insight that could help weed out undesirable elements.

As ominous as that last sentence was, everyone must remain cool and casual. Their spaces, virtual or physical, must always remain forums of open, but principled, discussion.

Groups involved in underground work might be well served with the invite being introduced to a single comrade at a time for security reasons, and so that the others can gauge for themselves if they'll be comfortable with working with the newbie.


Prior to any recruitment drive, write down the different tasks one might have to do while being a member of your collective. Once you all have agreed on a general list of activities, discuss and rank them according to the amount of effort and commitment each activity requires in order to be done properly. This forms a “ladder of tasks” that you could use to judge how willing a certain prospect is and nudge them towards greater and greater tasks, making them more invested in the collective's success.

This is a practical application of the Especifist concept of “Concentric Rings of Participation” where the more committed you are and more tasks you perform for the collective, the more opportunities you'll have to vote on decisions. This is because of how, following the principles of self-management, only those who participate in an action, or will be affected by its outcome somehow, will have a say in how it is performed.

Now, it bears repeating that because we are anarchists, and this author endorsing Especifist forms of organizing, that being a committed member of the collective and thus being in its inner circle of members, doesn't give one authority over those in outer circles. If a certain action involves both fresh recruits and seasoned militants, each individual comrade only has one vote each.

Responsibilities as Sponsor

Managing Expectations

This comes into play early in the process of inducting your Invite into the collective. Make sure you are realistic about the collective's purpose, goals and current capabilities.

On the other hand, one must also be transparent to the rest of the collective about the Invite's tendencies, attitude and disposition. This is in order for the rest of your comrades to at least be somewhat ready to meet with the newbie.

Mediating between the Invite and the Collective

In circumstance where the Invite may be displaying undesirable behavior or an issue emerges between the Invite and some other member of the Collective, it is your responsibility as their Sponsor to mediate. Many other works on conflict mediation has already been written, and this is not the best space to talk about it. Just a quick note that in the event of an issue forming between you and your Invite, the collective will have to assign you two a mediator and try to resolve things from there.

Once the newbie goes from being an Invite to a full member of the Collective, conflict mediation can then be done by any other member of the collective, unless both parties are alright with the newbie's Sponsor mediating for them.

Ensuring the constant development of their Invite

Similar to what was stated in Intensify, as Sponsor, you should help get your Invite more involved in the Collective. In order to do that, you would need to help them develop their capacity to perform the tasks involved. Of course, your comrades can also help in certain aspects of the struggle based on their expertise, but it is your responsibility as Sponsor to ensure the Invite gets that training in one form or another.

It might be best if your collective creates a reading list based on your organization's tendency and introduce your invite to certain introductory pieces of literature in order to get them started. If you've worked in a Call Center before, maybe help train your invite in public speaking and overcoming objections. And if they ask about something that you don't know much about, either look it up for them or put them in touch with someone who does.

And if possible, also expand and enable their material capacity to pursue the class struggle. Lend or donate old pieces of equipment you don't use anymore when they need it, help them get to functions and picket lines when they're short on cash, carry some extra meds for them in case they run out of them on the road or during a demonstration. All of these things count just as much, if not more than, their own mental and moral capabilities.


As our material conditions change and history progresses, this text cannot possibly be taken as spoken gospel, and I ask each and every one of you who thinks that any of the ideas and processes described here to be useful, to adapt them to your specific situation. In summary, what I was trying to say in so many words above is to:

  • Be aware of who you interact with

  • Check if their views coincide with yours and your collective's

  • Check if they are affiliated or related with those whose goals run counter to our own.

  • See if they can collaborate with the rest of the collective, and if they can, to introduce them in the way best suited to both your collective's and your Invite's needs

Once again, I wish you all to remain safe and to never give up the fight.

One of the biggest criticisms of Anarchism, or specifically, Anarchist Communism, is how it is “ineffective,” lacks coherence and discipline, and use that to justify support for more authoritarian forms of organizing in leftist circles.

Being in the archipelago known as the Philippines, one of the works most cited by socialists in building discipline among their ranks is Mao's “Combat Liberalism.” The contributions of the National Democratic movement spearheaded by the Maoist CPP-NPA-NDF cannot be understated when it comes to issues of worker's rights and land reform, especially in the countryside. But, like all hierarchical organizations, we see that they have their own shortcomings. However, that doesn't mean we can't learn anything from them. We just need to pick out the truly liberatory ideas or those that strengthen our resolve in pursuing them and apply them in ways that mirror the better and fairer society we want to build.

A Review

Mao opens the discussion by describing what “Liberalism” is in general:

... liberalism rejects ideological struggle and stands for unprincipled peace, thus giving rise to a decadent, Philistine attitude and bringing about political degeneration in certain units and individuals in the Party and the revolutionary organizations.

Right off the bat we can see that Mao's use of the word “Liberalism” here is completely different from how people with academic backgrounds use them, and this is important: “Liberalism” in here refers to the attitude that comes from the values upon which Classical Liberalism is built on- best summarized as “Vulgar Individualism.” That same term, “Vulgar Individualism,” I reckon, is a better term to use than “Liberalism” in this context for reasons which we'll be discussing later, and we'll be using that term as opposed to “Liberalism” throughout the rest of this work.

Mao continues by then describing eleven types of Vulgar Individualism, the first being:

To let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and refrain from principled argument because he is an old acquaintance, a fellow townsman, a schoolmate, a close friend, a loved one, an old colleague or old subordinate. Or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly, so as to keep on good terms. The result is that both the organization and the individual are harmed.

In more contemporary terms, we would call this “enabling” someone's wrongdoing. That by allowing someone to continue doing the damage they are doing to themselves or others, they are jeopardizing not only the functioning of the organization, in Mao's case, the Party, but also of the entire revolutionary project. As Anarchists, we are for prefigurative politics, a politics in which we emulate the kind of society we want to bring about. Certainly, we don't want the kinds of prejudices and crimes our own comrades commit continue within our own struggles as we don't want that to live on in a post-revolutionary society.

However, being too harsh in the methods of holding others, society at large as well as our own comrades both, can lead to what's called “Cancel Culture” here in the 21st century. It leads to the kinds of performative displays of purity which many, myself included, mistake for praxis from time to time to the expense of actually going out and organizing resistance and struggle. We'll have to come back to this as we go on.

To indulge in irresponsible criticism in private instead of actively putting forward one's suggestions to the organization. To say nothing to people to their faces but to gossip behind their backs, or to say nothing at a meeting but to gossip afterwards. To show no regard at all for the principles of collective life but to follow one's own inclination. This is a second type.

This is something that is concerning as in the context of a Libertarian organization. “To indulge in irresponsible criticism in private instead of actively putting forward one's suggestions” sounds like enforced participation. It is also curious what is meant by “irresponsible criticism” as well.

That being said, forced participation would alienate those comrades who have anxieties involving social interactions as well as those who don't have confidence in their own words, or both. We must take great care in facilitating meetings that are able to encourage free exchange of ideas and build the confidence of our newer companions in the struggle while ensuring that the ideas and experiences of more experienced comrades are shared and developed in a collective manner. Your experiences only have value when shared with others, after all.

The choice of the term “Vulgar Individualism” becomes clearer as we see how the neglect or apathy towards the collective aspects of class struggle is detrimental to the cause.

To let things drift if they do not affect one personally; to say as little as possible while knowing perfectly well what is wrong, to be worldly wise and play safe and seek only to avoid blame. This is a third type.

In the context of Especifismo and its principles of self-management, letting things go as long as they do not affect oneself is encouraged. You after all, only get a vote when you are either directly participating in an action or is affected by the potential consequences of an action.

In context however, this third type relates closely to the first, of enabling another person's crimes, but on an organizational scale. We could see this kind of “looking out for number one” in corporate and state bureaucracies the world over. Should we allow that type of attitude remain in our formations? No, of course not. The better question is how to prevent it from happening and to work through it if it does.

Not to obey orders but to give pride of place to one's own opinions. To demand special consideration from the organization but to reject its discipline.

For the sake of coherence and effectiveness and general human decency, it's of course best to not break the picket line or to snitch on your comrades when performing sensitive actions. Plus, it's just being a prick and no one wants to work with an asshole.

Here we can see the “Vulgar” in “Vulgar Individualism”. Let me be clear in saying that the “Individual vs. Collective” dichotomy is a false one. As anarchists, we engage in class struggle in order to protect our individual freedoms. However, we also recognize that those very same freedoms are linked with each other's freedoms. So many revolutionary movements crushed because they lacked the help of a large part of the oppressed classes. But more than that, also because it's simply wrong to allow any form of injustice to remain within the societies we are giving our lives to bring about, right?

The only thing to question, then, is “to obey orders.” Who gives out these orders? How are these decisions made? Perhaps this is not a question of comrades going their own way, but rather their voices not being heard. There is a reason that the CPP-NPA-NDF keeps spawning offshoots, problems with dissension, that ultimately lead to the purges that lead them murdering hundreds of their own partisans and cadres back in the 80's. It's also worth noting that the Party has only ever had two Congresses in its entire history, with no delegates younger than 33 years old.

When you teach someone to struggle against oppression and the lack of agency created by Capital, why would you be surprised when they struggle against you when you take away their agency and make their decisions for them?

To indulge in personal attacks, pick quarrels, vent personal spite or seek revenge instead of entering into an argument and struggling against incorrect views for the sake of unity or progress or getting the work done properly.

This loops back with what was mentioned in the previous form of “Vulgar Individualism.” Toxic people who value their own vendettas over the collective goals of the revolutionary organization are detrimental to the cause. However, let's give the disruptive person the benefit of the doubt. Because, who seriously wants to be that person everyone is disappointed to see show up at the meeting?

Going to the root of the issue, more often than not, we find some unheard grievances left to fester. But of course, the fact those concerns weren't heard speaks volumes about how the organization is structured. People who are naturally divisive and disruptive, based on reports from people in their immediate social circle are different from those previously quiet comrades who suddenly began making a scene. The latter represents a collective failure of the organization in being a safe space as well as an open environment for the development of ideas. These things must be kept in mind for the sake of the cause.

To hear incorrect views without rebutting them and even to hear counter-revolutionary remarks without reporting them, but instead to take them calmly as if nothing had happened.

The question of authority again comes up in reference to the use of “incorrect” as an adjective here. Whether it's determined by a small group of people, an ideologue or the majority of the members of the organization, it still implies some sort of coercive system of enforcing what is “correct”. We'll have to admit that if someone starts using slurs in a meeting to describe people or argue that capitalism has a place in anarchist society, we're gonna need to have a really intense conversation. But apart from the fundamentals, what else is there to be “correct” about? Does a “Party Line” have a place in an anarchist organization?

That discussion deserves it's own article, but here we're just gonna have to say that when working within an Anarchist framework of direct action and self-management, you would only have a vote if you participate in a certain action, or if its result will affect you in some way. And if you have a vote on a certain action, it is in your interest to come up to a conclusion that satisfies the concerns of everyone involved before a certain action is ratified and executed. If you go out there, your comrades will depend on you to do your part as it was discussed, or have their backs when things go bad. As mentioned earlier, “Vulgar Individualism” is when self-serving individuals disregard the needs of their organization, and by extension, their other comrades. In other words, being a prick.

My Egoist comrades would be quick to point out that such “Vulgar Individualists” would be sabotaging their own long-term rational self interests in doing the shit they do. Mentioned above, one's true individual freedoms are dependent on the well-being and support of the collective, and vice-versa. True Individualists, in the Egoist formulation, understand how positive group dynamics can aid in fulfilling individual goals, most especially if you are all doing it with shared and individual goals in mind.

To be among the masses and fail to conduct propaganda and agitation or speak at meetings or conduct investigations and inquiries among them, and instead to be indifferent to them and show no concern for their well-being, forgetting that one is a Communist and behaving as if one were an ordinary non-Communist. This is a seventh type.

To see someone harming the interests of the masses and yet not feel indignant, or dissuade or stop him or reason with him, but to allow him to continue.

“Be indifferent to them and show no concern for their well-being,” is something that Libertarian Communists must avoid at all costs. We all have different ways of doing this and different ways of agitating the people into action, or at the very least, spread awareness. However, there are those comrades that feel the need to hold others by stringent and strict tests of purity by either ideological or practical standards. This has been the case because of known infiltration of Law Enforcement as well as other reactionary elements in some circles, and have become more vigilant as a result. This same attitude, however, leads to others getting discouraged in the movement as they may be asked, implicitly or otherwise, to engage in shows of how radical they are. Not everyone wants to wear their ideology on a sleeve. There are also times when it will place themselves or others in distress and worse, material harm.

Better to show people that you are for a world free of masters by your actions towards that world, and not by making a spectacle of oneself. Unless your collective action includes making a spectacle, in which case by all means, release the giant, papier-mache float of Duterte's hideous mug.

To work half-heartedly without a definite plan or direction; to work perfunctorily and muddle along

This emphasizes the need for organization. Revolutionary spontaneity only becomes effective when it is organized. That is, people gathered around common goals and committed to common tactics. And not having numbers and a plan not only makes you and your comrades look crude, but also place each other at risk when things go south.

Take for example an expropriation action where a cell of 6-7 comrades quietly slip into the a big-box supermarket in order to secure food and other materials for the cause. If for example they decide to do this before they've done any sort of prep work, or if they have no experience in doing something similar and thus have contingencies and backup plans, it is likely they get tracked down and caught. If they lose trust in each other for one reason or another, that would also open them up to unnecessary risks.

To regard oneself as having rendered great service to the revolution, to pride oneself on being a veteran, to disdain minor assignments while being quite unequal to major tasks, to be slipshod in work and slack in study.

A given, obviously. This, along with the last one:

To be aware of one's own mistakes and yet make no attempt to correct them, taking a liberal attitude towards oneself.

Are just patently horrible attitudes for any radical, but most especially for Libertarian Communists in that we are against all authority and centralized power. What's described here sounds like clout-chasing posturing from future politicians who would sooner see themselves rise above others than see the revolution succeed.

More than that we can see how the above tendencies are toxic to revolutionary organizations, as Mao has so described in “Combat Liberalism”: “It is a corrosive which eats away unity, undermines cohesion, causes apathy and creates dissension.”


If you've read up to this point, I hope you've begun to see a common thread running throughout this work:

  1. Mao's concerns about “Vulgar Individualism” are valid, but at the same time,

  2. The framing of his condemnation here, as well as a severe lack of practical advice on how to avoid this on an organizational level, leads to an individualized performance of radical politics. Not unlike how wider social issues are reduced to individual failings by both the Church and mainstream society.

  3. “Individual vs. Collective” is a false dichotomy.

  4. The previous two leads to a weaker and less internally-cohesive revolutionary organization, but for different reasons than the kind created by “vulgar individualism.”

Parson Young, writing for the Trotskyite organization International Marxist Tendency in his essay “Does Mao's ‘Combat Liberalism’ actually combat liberalism?“, writes:

In the final analysis, Mao’s ‘Combat Liberalism’ falls into mere moralising—the desire to discipline individual behaviors based on whether they are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the abstract.

While I won't go so far as to call it “mere moralizing”, I do agree that there is a level of essentialism being done here. Essentialism, being the assignment of an ahistorical “essence” to something rooted in historical circumstances. Mao presents “Liberalism” here as a great “Other”. Which is quite ironic since Mao himself mentions that Liberalism “look upon the principles of Marxism as abstract dogma.” Mao failed to take into consideration how member-group dynamics shape the entire revolutionary organization and instead left us with what is basically a Code of Conduct. But then again, this was written as a response to what he perceives as failures in how his political rivals organize their sections of the Party.

Like what was mentioned at the beginning, we're trying to see which ideas are applicable to a libertarian socialist organization. Some of these things definitely belong in any radical space, some of these not so much. At least, not if their goal is a truly free society.

So what would an anarchist version of this look like?

Living Radical Democracy

We stand for active principled struggle because it is the tool with which to build the revolutionary movement in the interests of all those participating in the struggle and their own. Every Anarchist should take this tool up and learn to use it well.

Radical Democracy requires of us consistent principled struggle and stands for freedom, thus giving rise to a refined Cosmopolitan attitude bringing about growth in all units and individuals in the collective.

Radical Democracy manifests itself in various ways:

To be consistent in our criticism of injustice and inequity. Most importantly in our loved ones, colleagues and fellow townspeople, for they are the foundation of the free and just society that we want to build. Discussing things in depth, even if it means temporarily creating disagreements. This results in the collective and the individual growing.

To actively put forward one's suggestions and criticisms to the organization for the rest of the collective's reflection. To be honest and open with one's thoughts and opinion of people, especially their comrades. To seek to better one's ability to express and open up their ideas to the rest of their peers.

To clearly and firmly speak up once one knows that something is wrong, and take responsibility for resolution, regardless of the result.

To fully commit to decisions made collectively, those born out of discussions taking in the voices of all concerned. To render as much to the collective as one is given to the best of their ability.

To engage in levelheaded discussion of current events and views for the sake of unity and progress.

To engage with incorrect views, or in serious cases, to report them to the rest of the collective.

To engage with diverse groupings of people, those at the margins, one's own family and friends and bring them into awareness of how the profound lack of Democracy in our politics and workplace is harming us collectively. To show them, when the opportunity presents itself, how the Spectacle of modern life makes us passive to our own lives and reduces us into images that help perpetuate oppression.

To be mindful of our own mistakes and take great lengths to correct them.

There are many more types, but these are the principal types.

They are all manifestations of Radical Democracy.

Radical Democracy is extremely useful in a revolutionary collective, it creates cohesion and unity, development in one's own understanding, consciousness and expressiveness. Within the revolutionary ranks, it creates compact and disciplined organization, a discipline borne out of understanding and care as opposed to a discipline carried by fear.

Radical Democracy, informed by a historical reading of society's material conditions, sees the individual's interests and well-being in the freedom and development of society at large. Towards this, we seek to constantly instill in our communities a sense of openness that would allow for a harmonious, but passionate, discussion of difficult topics without threat of the kind of nearly-religious purity-testing found in more hierarchical and regimented groupings. Committed Libertarians must always show a great amount of patience and openness to criticism, but as well as know when they are stretched thin and need to take care of themselves. They must always strengthen their ties to their communities both locally and in the revolutionary collective. Their concern for themselves must be reflected in their actions towards bettering their community. They must avoid sabotaging their own self-interest by placing their own short-term wants over their long-term needs which are tied up with their collective well-being.

All loyal, active and dedicated Libertarians must unite to live these tendencies of Radical Democracy in their daily lives and become examples for others to do the same and set them on the right path. This is among the most important tasks in our continued struggle, but it can only be done together.

I. Definitions


Any possession which may used produce products, services or otherwise benefit one party or another. This includes, but is not limited to, land, industrial equipment, agricultural equipment, books, computers, etc.


Right to participate in activities involving the use of the property. (Ex. Driving a car; Reading a book; Farming on a plot of land, etc)


Right to the products of the property. (Ex. A season's harvest on a farm; Cars built in a factory; Profits of selling a service, information on a database)


Right to destroy, consume or exchange the property for something else.

II. A distorted present

During the 18th-19th century when people first began asking about their place in the world when it comes to who's in charge and how to organize civilized life, the definitions of property, especially between private and personal property, were clear:

Private property includes the factories, farms and the equipment within them, which are owned by a very small number of individuals.

Personal property are the things that you use directly, your clothes, your house (assuming you're not renting) and your household appliances.

However, things are no longer that simple.

Life for the common person has gotten so bad that sites like eBay and Amazon allow you to sell almost anything online – mostly what was once your personal possessions. Services like Uber and Angkas, the motorcycle ridesharing app in the Philippines, promise that “you can be your own boss”, all while taking a large chunk out of the earnings you've made with your own car or bike. People rarely even own the place they call “home” anymore.

Things aren't as simple anymore.

No, that's a lie – Things were never simple to begin with, because capitalism will do as capitalism does:

Reduce everything and everyone into a series of transactions.

Time we take a closer look at how it twists our lives and how we can take it back.

III. Looking past the curtain

With the lines between private and personal property blurring everyday as a result of rampant neoliberalism, we need to reduce both of them to their basic principles. We will define each of them in terms of Utility, Benefits and the Alienation (otherwise known as the right to take away) of Property.

As it stands today, the means to produce the needs of humanity, food, water, power, land, etc, are all considered Private Property. What this means is that those who have ownership of, say, a factory, have the right to the products (or, more often, the right to the profits on the sale of the products) and the right to sell, or even demolish the whole place if they so choose. They also have the right to work at the same factory, but if they can get people who are willing to work for a wage at that factory, why would they? And that's what they did, they hire workers to do the actual value-producing labor for them.

So let's take a look at what's happening here:

The Utility of the factory – the performance of labor – is given to the workers, while not excluding the owners. The owner working alongside the workers is the normal mode of operation for entrepreneurs and startups, for example. In most cases, however, this is practically surrendered to the workforce, especially in the case of large, multinational corporations.

The Benefits of the factory clearly go to the owners, that's why they could earn many times more than their workers despite not working that many times harder.

The right to Alienate – that is, change, destroy or sell – the factory is completely the owners'. It's in this manner they could sell portions of “ownership” to the public via stocks in order to raise more money to fund more money-making ventures. These stocks are then used to divide the profits among the stockholders, as well as the weight of each stockholder's vote. Vote on what, you might ask? Votes on matters of changing, selling and destroying parts of the factory.

All of the above can be said of landlords, the haciendas in rural Philippines, Uber, eBay, Facebook, etc. If a business allows you to use something, with or without pay (in both directions), while a vanishingly-small minority benefits off of your use, all while reserving the right to change the terms of the game all at the same time, you're being exploited.

IV. Looking at yourself

So where does this all leave you, the individual?

We live in an era in which the grip of profit-driven interests has escaped the walls of the workplace and follows us into our daily lives. It's likely you're reading this from an electronic device of some sort, most likely a phone, which, if we look at it in the terms we established above, is not completely yours. It's also likely you live in one or more online communities.

And yes, you did not misread that, I said “LIVE”.

Everyday we participate in social relations mediated by structures and services set up to benefit a minority. Here in the Philippines, for example, we continue to allow our parks, watersheds and other open spaces to be entombed in concrete by real estate firms seeking to build malls and walled communities. This is all while knowingly depriving the communities that live there their homes and livelihood. This is all in the face of an ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots.

So what do we have? What can we truly call ours?

Property is considered to be personal property when only one person, or a very limited number of people, have permission to use it, benefit from its use and can decide to sell, change or destroy it. So that book you and your friends might be taking turns to read is still personal property. Your clothes are personal property, your house (if you're not renting) and your other personal possessions are all personal property. The work you submit to your boss, whether it be research, products, etc, aren't. And neither do you truly own your social media profiles. By this measure, the modern worker, especially the modern Filipino worker thus owns less of the total things they use in their daily lives than they ever did in previous eras.

V. Looking out into the world

So we have talked about the things we use, or the places where we work, which we don't own, and talked about the things that we could truly call our own. But what about the things that we share, not just with our close friends and family, but with everyone in our communities, or even all of humanity?

Public property is when a large number of people are permitted to use it. It's when a large number of people benefit from the property being used. It's when decisions to change, destroy or sell a property are made by a community, or more often than not, that community's representatives.

We can see from here that roads, public hospitals, public schools and historical monuments are all this. Although, if you've seen a public school in the Philippines, then you know there's a lot left to be desired when it comes to public works and property.

This is because right now, the State (The Philippine Republic), is not doing a really good job of managing public works, and is falling into the trap of letting for-profit corporations take care of utilities and roadworks. What this means is that a large, centralized organization is making decisions on what to do with the properties under its care. Imagine for example a distant relative who hasn't seen what your home life has been like for the past ten years calling all the shots in your life. The State is like that, a far-removed entity that holds too much power over its people because of how it has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, via the Police and the Military.

Make no mistake, the under-funded schools, the public hospitals filled with over-worked and underpaid healthcare staff and constant water and electric shortages, are all just so much icing on this shit cake. A nation like Japan or Norway could have good public services and infrastructure, but the fact they still have a State to protect the interests of the rich still make them complicit in the abuse of the people.

VI. What is to be done?

This way of life is just slavery given another name.

Everyday, the rich get richer off of the work that others did. Their wealth being protected by the State, who is fed by that same ill-gotten wealth. All this while everyone is too distracted by the latest celebrity scandal, or fighting each other because of preconceived notions of what human beings should be like. This doesn't even include how The State treats indigenous people who choose to live their own way of life like trash.

What should we do about this?

As Anarchists, also known as Libertarian Socialists, we call for the complete abolition of Private Property in order to hand the workers the means to their own living. Worker's councils will replace managers and administrators, and decisions are to be made by consensus democracy. This ensures that the “tyranny of the masses” and mob rule does not overtake, and thus delay, the production of the needs of the community.

We call for the dissolution of the State, to be replaced with a confederation which is subdivided at the Regional, District and Community level. This replaces the overgrown bureaucracy of government processes and allow each community to decide what is best for their on lives. However, not every community will be able to provide for their own needs. We also recognize that the needs of the city is different from the needs of the countryside, and the needs of the indigenous people radically different from the prior two. This is the reason for the Confederation – coordinating the distribution of surplus and the needs of each community, as well as for infrastructure projects that affect multiple communities. No more will the farmer or the indigent be thrown to the wolves whenever powerful people want something from their property.

Alongside the dissolution of the State, we call for the abolition of the Police and The Military. In their place, an armed working class shall protect against internal threats, and a volunteer militia with a democratically-elected leadership to combat external threats to the cause.

I know that the above may be new concepts for you, and they are outside the scope of this brief work's scope. The person that sent you this will likely be able to elaborate on them, as well as answer any questions you might have. Further works like this one will be distributed soon, and we look forward to standing side-by-side with you against the forces of oppression.


MAKIALAM (pandiwa)

Sumangkot o makisangkot sa isang gawain o usapin.

Galing sa ugat na:

ALAM (pangngalan)

Pagkakaunawa o pagkakaron ng kamalayan tungkol sa isang bagay.

Ang ating pang araw-araw na buhay ay pinakikialaman ng mga tao at interes na di tugma sa atin. Gubyerno. Boss mo sa trabaho. Yung mga admin ng socmed site na bina-ban yung mga meme page na nagpapapawi ng bahagya sa bigat ng pang araw-araw na kayod. Karamihan sa mga to, di 'rektang nakaka-apekto sa atin. Pero, gawa nga ng mundong lumiliit araw-araw buhat ng online at ng pagsasa-presyo ng lahat ng pangangailangan natin para mabuhay, ramdam pa rin natin yun.

Nabanggit ko mga ilang linggo na sa mga kaibigan ko na di pala mahabang panahon ang isang dekada. Alam mo bang magbebente-singkong taon na pala ang Fushigi Yuugi?? Tangina. Ang tanda na natin, pero ang mundong kinalakihan natin, wala atang pinag-katandaan.

Sabi nga nila “All the world's a stage”, at kung ganun, anong klaseng show kaya ang nasa takilya ng kasalukuyan ngayon?

Climate Change.

Pagpasok na naman ng America sa bagong giyera.

Paglaganap ng mga epidemya.

Pagbili ng China sa ating gubyerno.

Pag-taas ng presyo ng bigas at pamasahe sa bus, tren at jeep.


Di ata magandang ending ang kahahantungan nito.

Pero... “All the world's a stage”. May ganap din tayo.

Ang mga nagpapatakbo ng basurang palabas na tong tinatawag nating mundo ay nasa kapangyarihan lang dahil sinusunod natin ang mga role, mga ganap na bigay nila sa atin. Mga ganap na sila ang ginagawang bida sa buhay natin, kilala man natin sila o hinde. Kung nagtatrabaho ka para mabuhay, Sino ang nagdidikta ng kung anong oras ang gising mo araw-araw? Yung schedule mo buong linggo?

Sino naman ang nagpapatakbo ng mga lansangan na dinadaanan ng jeep na sinasakyan mo? Ng mga riles ng tren na pinagsisik-sikan mo ang sarili mong makapasok? Ng kuryenteng pan-charge ng phone mo? Ng tubig-gripong nawawala-wala araw-araw?

Mamamayan. Empleyado. Kostumer. Mga iba't-ibang ganap, mga iba't-ibang uri ng kontrol.

Mga extra lang tayo sa isang higanteng palabas na sila lang ang bida. Sila lang ang nakikinabang. Sila lang ang matatandaan ng kasaysayan, at hanggang numero lang sa Census ang bilang natin. Minsan kahit yun, wala pa.

Kung isang higanteng palabas ang mundo, agawin natin ang show. Ngayon palang, kita na natin na di maganda ang ending ng palabas na to. Steal the show.

Agawin natin ang mundo.

On social media, I usually people moan over how we're “Destroying Nature”, and that “Mother Nature is dying.” No, my sweet summer child. Mother Nature ain't dying. Mother Nature is just grabbing the slippers she's gon' use to spank our collective asses with. Natural processes that lead to life are going to remain well after we are gone. We just won't be in it.

What we're really calling “Mother Nature” is the specific set of material conditions found in nature that is conducive to life as we know it. And more importantly, to human life as we know it. Studies in catastrophe theory and chaos theory have all discussed at length how this works.

What we're here to talk about though, is how this “enduring myth” of a “Balance of Nature” reveals about how the Filipino thinks about the world around them.

Essentialism is the view that for every entity or object, there lies certain attributes or substances that are critical for what it does. That there are things that make things what they are. This has been explored in Plato's Theory of Forms, that everything is an imperfect embodiment of a perfect, abstract Form. Following this logic, certain characteristics make “Nature” what it is. “Men” and “Women” would also have not only defining, but essential characteristics. Not having certain characteristics disqualifies something from being something.

I hope you can see how this kind of thinking is problematic.

Not only does this kind of thinking removes an entity, in this case, Nature, out of its historical context, but it also ignores the variety and breadth of human experience tied to the entity. A semi-essential view of nature was found in the Animism of the natives of the pre-colonial Philippines. It was a living and present force in their lives, something that could be bargained and negotiated with. Offerings could be made to placate their anger, while feasts were held to thank them for a bountiful harvest. Recognizing the role that the environment, and “Nature”, in general, plays in their lives.

Although this isn't to say that the natives were this “in-tune with nature” collective of hippies that they're sometimes made out to be. Muro-Ami is the practice of using rocks to destroy corals in order to catch fish in dragnets. This not only leads to overfishing, but also depletes the ocean biome's ability to replenish fish populations. Not to mention the complete lack of human waste management which lead to their shit, quite literally, being all over the place.

But it gets worse with the eventual arrival of the Spanish conquistadors and the wide-scale feudalization of the islands. The old gods were demonized and “Nature” just became God's gift to mankind. Which the colonized laborers were obliged to hand over to their conquerors. The theocratic ideology of the Church caused a greater split between the inhabitants of the archipelago and their environment, with the building of the oldest cities, etc.

With the arrival of the American “Benevolent Assimilators”, almost all sectors experience some form of industrialization. The relationship of Society and Nature was then made into a purely economic one. It is here that Alienation from Nature is made complete.

Observe how at each stage, Nature was assigned a different “Essence” and contextualizes society's relationship with it. We are not saying that all of these changes happened overnight, and that these are complete, sweeping changes, either. Reality is a lot more messy than that. What we are saying though, is that it unconsciously make us ignore nature's role in the context of our material conditions. It's just somewhere you get all that wood from. It downplays the fact that we affect it as much as it affects us. And this indifference to the role that large-scale human activity, of which large corporate and military entities are the most at fault for, has resulted in the crisis we are seeing today with global warming.

We must learn that Nature is not a great, monolithic entity. That it is an inconceivably large and interconnected network of systems, of which animal life, and specifically human life, is merely just a part of. The contradiction between Nature and the needs of human social production, is something that Marx calls The Metabolic Rift, and we can see how that is creating a global crisis and pushing us head-first into what is likely going to be a 6th extinction event the world has ever seen.

We must learn how to resolve this dialectical contradiction, or pay the price in countless lives.

Writers will write.

“I have to admit that it makes me feel like I don't want to write anymore.”

That was something I remember telling one of my friends after they said that they don't read what I write. Or can't. Or was it “can't/don't read all that you wrote”? The exact flow of the conversation escapes me. It's been a few days since the actual exchange.

But the direct, face-to-face admission of disinterest in your work by someone whose opinions you trust stings. That's most of what I remember, if I'm being honest. It's the emotion. How something made you feel. It's that part you remember clearly.

So why did I just post two articles over the past three days?

Too much caffeine in my bloodstream, for one.

And the fact that I've already tied up my identity with what I do. As bad of an idea as that is.

Which brings to mind a brief topic that was brought up in a reading group discussion: What if the day comes that productivity becomes divorced from labor? What if people, by automation, can just exist???

I feel the answer lies in who gets to own the automated machinery. And if you've been paying attention to what kind of things I write, (funny mentioning that, given the context) you'd already have a rough idea of who I'd want to be in charge.

However, I'm more interested in knowing what would life be like. How would people go about their daily lives? Would they be occupied by indulging themselves in various luxuries and exotic experiences? COMMUNAL ORGIES!!! Would an explosion of different, obscure forms of hobbies occur? I feel that in some form or another, certain industries and trades would not be automated. Not because they would inherently require the human touch, no. But most likely because, like me, people need something to do to help realize themselves. And I'm not talking about people taking up artisanal mason-jar decorating! I'm talking about people doing actual jobs because they feel like that's what they're supposed to do. That doing it gives their lives meaning. That doing it helps them make their lives meaningful.

I'm imagining in a not-so-near dystopian future where people would subsist on a Universal Basic Income of some kind. Life would become unbearably dull. Your Universal Income only allows you to survive at a bare minimum, preventing the accumulation of wealth and property. This allows the megacorporations to buy up all the property and further secure their hegemony. The only option in this gray, barely-living life is to get so high off your brains that you become desensitized to it. Or begin a revolt to seize the means of production!

Or even better: Begin a revolt to seize the means of production while being extremely high on drugs!!!

And I'm willing to bet that it would be because doing stuff, farming, construction, all the way to medicine and writing, are all things that humans are just naturally inclined to do, with or without pay. With or without the approval of large States and multinational corporations. It's just an expression of our shared nature.

So regardless of whether or not anyone reads what I write, I'm still gonna write. Because that's just what I do.

The Filipino in the face of Disaster

On the afternoon of January 12 the Taal Volcano began spewing ash and smoke from its ancient caldera. Within hours a massive evacuation effort was launched to get people out of harm's way. A comrade was among the people fleeing the scene. Government offices and schools were understandably closed due to the disaster, but BPO centers around the areas most affected by the ensuing ashfall had the gall to call their workers back to work.

We've seen this story before:

A calamity or some other misfortune affects a large area of the nation and we get reports of people calling in to work being praised for “their dedication to their jobs” despite the obvious risks. The true story is most likely that they literally couldn't afford to be gone that shift. They might not get administrative sanctions or attendance memos for being absent, though that still happens, but they still won't be paid for that workday. No work, no pay, right? But, this isn't to say that the supervisors and managers frantically calling their employees to work are bad people. This is bigger than any one person.

When you have someone who lives completely on what they make per hour worked, they have little choice but to show up for work. This is the greatest triumph of modern capitalism over the human spirit. I remember someone calling money “survival notes” because it literally does mean whether or not you survive in this society. Because we live inside it! It's become a very efficient way for the rich business owner and investor to value profits over human lives.

With slavery, you own the person, end of discussion. In feudalism, you own the land, you get part of the produce of that land (and a priority pick of any of the fair maidens therein, not like they have a say in the matter!). But with capitalism? Oh, boy, you not only own the place where they work, you also own the places where they spend their hard-earned survival-notes at!

That's how you get people to show up at work soaking in rainwater after braving the elements for two hours to get to a job that pays less than a hundred pesos an hour. That's how you get people to stay to watch over what little property they have in the face of a raging volcano. That's how you get people to value profit over human lives, most especially if that life is their own.

So no, it isn't surprising that there'd be people who'd come to work on the apocalypse. Capitalism has made our world so absurd that it would actually make sense.

So here's to the working-class heroes who instead of going to work went out to help in whatever way they could, even if it's something as natural as getting your family to safety.

Identity and Belonging in an age of Social Media

Atty. Oli Reyes mentioned in a viral tweet how foreign youtubers were taking advantage of the Filipino need for global validation to garner more views – and therefore, ad revenue. But what is going on here? What does that mean for us as people? Does anyone care?

“Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.”

  • Hanlon's Razor

I can't really call what these content creators did as “incompetent”. Neither are they also likely to be malicious either. It's not like there's some weird cabal of Youtubers that go “Hey! This demographic is an easy mark”.

At least, I hope there isn't. LOL.

Although the lack of intentionality behind this phenomenon might actually make it all worse.

Love him or hate him, Slovenian Philosopher Slavoj Zizek considers ideology as not just the amalgam of ideas and ideals, most especially today, as an unconscious process that serves as a series of justifications and spontaneous symbolic acts which support abstract authorities. We do things and follow certain social mores, all the while not seeing how it keeps things the way they are. People following a trend is just part of that.

But what is “That”?

“The whole life of those societies in which modern conditions of production prevail presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. All that was once lived has become mere representation...”

”...The Spectacle is not a collection of images; rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediate by images.”

  • Guy Debord, “The Society of the Spectacle”, emphasis mine

When French revolutionary and artist Guy Debord wrote those lines back in 1967, he was talking about the Press, the Movies and the Radio. In the age of Vainstagram, Facestalk and that little annoying bird, it becomes more and more relevant. Watching foodbloggers cook instant ramen with melted cheese and barbecued pork bellies so you don't have to. Seeing people travel to distant places to live vicariously through them. Feeling proud about your nation winning in the Olympics. Living the life of your dreams becomes a matter or sending “Likes” or sharing their posts on your own social media page. Living becomes a matter of consumption. Consumption.

Consumption. Brings up images of cows grazing out on pasture, don't it?

Labels for the trees only benefit the logger.

The Spectacle, in the words of Debord, creates labels and “images” for us. The entire process of demand management depends on the management of demographics, which are in terms of The Spectacle, a social relationship that is mediated by images. Youtuber Peter Coffin words it cleverly in his video Somewhere to Belong:

“Instead we're presented with an identity and a 'community' that keeps us on the path of consumption that we're already on... It's birthed ways to convince people not to band together in a meaningful way, painting the individual as the prime concern and authority – Ultimately preaching that the basis of community is the validation of the self.”

Like what Peter says later – validation in and of itself isn't a bad thing. But the only validation that we will get from the current order is the kind that gets us to buy more. Watch more. Eat more. We get divided into these little cults of cultivated identities. And like crops and livestock, these identities are cultivated in order to be harvested later in some form.

Nation-States like the Republic of the Philippines are among the biggest culprits in cultivating identities for profit. Historian and Political Scientist Benedict Anderson calls nations “Imagined Communities”. This is especially true for the Philippines in that before the Spanish conquest, the inhabitants of what would come to be known as the Philippines lived in semi-autonomous communities that band together according to need. Although there is a proto-state formation in the case of the Kingdom of Maynila, but it's an outlier.

It served its purpose in building a united front against the Spanish, and then against the American and Japanese occupations. But in today's fully-integrated global capitalism, the oppressive force is no longer a single nation of colonizers. It has become a network of centers of capital around what is known as the “Developed Nations”, The United States, Western Europe, Japan, and increasingly, China. Gone are the days of coming in guns blazing to suppress a native population to grab land and resources. They'll go to your World Bank conferences and your United Nations meetings to do it for you! Nationalities have become nothing more than a useful illusion to get people to work together in the interests of a global elite. How else can you get people to lay down their lives to make a few rich perverts richer? “Serve your country!”

But, before I get misrepresented, this is not a call to a past “Golden Age” before global capital, before social media. This is a reminder to be more aware and vigilant about how our actions and patterns of consumption feed into the agendas of the ultrawealthy and ultrapowerful. The cat's out of the bag and the bad guys have already taken over. All that's left to do now is to weaken the structures that hold the dystopia in place. Unionize workplaces. Build communities. Find. The. Others.

A storm is coming and building the infrastructure needed to survive it with people that will have our backs is critical.

But we might be too busy watching rich foreigners eating Jollibee to do it in time.

“How do I achieve my goals this year?”

  1. VII of Pentacles – Signifier
    • Lord of Success Unfulfilled
    • Disappointment
    • Great deal of work for very little reward
  2. Strength – Answer
    • Control over one's instincts
    • Fire becomes light
    • Solar Power, Red Lion of Alchemy
    • Control over the Id
  3. Justice – Foil/Obstacle
    • Adjustments needed to be put on the right path
    • Make a decision, or it be made for you
    • Faithful Intelligence
    • Karma, Reciprocities
  4. The Lovers – Thoughts
    • Union of opposites
    • Analysis and Synthesis
  5. VII of Cups – Feelings
    • Illusionary success
    • Promises unfulfilled
    • Deception in the face of victory
  6. The Sun – Recent Past
    • Collecting Intelligence
    • Temporary, but ultimately refreshing, Rest
    • Highest form of human intelligence
    • Transformation of Lead to Gold
  7. X of Cups – Near Future
    • Lord of Perfected Success
    • Permanent and Lasting Success
    • Matters settled as wished
    • Happiness inspired from above
  8. II of Pentacles – What You Must Do
    • Lord of Harmonious Change
    • Patterns of alternating energy
    • Organizing dynamic forces
  9. King of Swords – What to Avoid
    • Violent and Aggressively Cutting Power
    • Unstable and can turn from one direction to another
  10. Knight of Pentacles – Advice
    • The aspect of Earth become Intelligible
    • Understanding of Material Conditions

Based on the results of the cards, I am currently in a state of disappointment at my progress, which is perhaps why I asked the question. So in order to achieve my goals this year, I must be passionate and harness all of my talents and skills towards my goals and purpose. I have the strength for it, I just need the discipline to achieve it. In my way right now, preventing me from my goals are the repercussions of my own actions, and things I need to improve on myself before I am able to proceed. I have been thinking about my shortcomings and my achievements for some time now and how to use them to achieve my goals, but still feel as if I've slacked for too long in the face of the opportunities and changes I've been presented and made.

In the recent past, I have had the opportunity to rest, recuperate, as well as bloom and grow intellectually, beyond what I have been in the past. The cards say that I have Permanent and Lasting successes in store for me in the near future, and I am keeping my fingers fucking crossed hoping that is true. Says here I need to go and learn how to make change harmonious, and learn to organize dynamic forces, and avoid out-and-out aggression and lack-of-commitment. And that I need to keep in mind to learn and understand the material conditions that allow for all this to happen.

The world is on fire.

Revolutions are happening all over the so-called “Third-World”, calling for the downfall of the neoliberal order, all while the global north does what it can to fan out the raging flame. For the first time in decades, socialist ideas are actually on the table in both the US and the UK. China's economic dominance is weakening and people can feel it. All of a sudden, it feels like revolution is finally in the fucking air.

In the Philippines, a palpable amount of discontent over the current administration's backdoor deals with China resulting in them selling the nation out in all but name as well as the thousands killed during his so called “War on Drugs”. The fact that the 30th ASEAN Games is being compared to Fyre Fest is just so much icing on this shit cake. And if we, leftists and especially Libertarian Socialists, move carefully but quickly, we might just be able to catch up with the rest of the world.

But how do we do that?

We organize, of course. But how exactly does one go about that?

There are two basic methodologies that we could use to achieve that. They are essentially the same if you look at them closely enough, but the theories and thought processes that went into formulating them are diverse enough that they warrant being discussed as two separate strategies.

First is the Mass Line.

Mass Line

Originating in Mao Tse-Tung's interpretation of how the Marxist-Leninists achieved victory in the October Revolution, this process is used to provide a leadership of the masses that is “from the masses, and to the masses”. This means taking the ideas of the masses, concentrating them and finally going back to the masses to explain and propagate these ideas in order to drum up action.

Let's break this down:

  1. Gather: Go out into your community, preferably in groups, and each organizer would speak to the locals about what they think about a certain issue, if you're organizing around a single issue, or what their concerns are about their community, their livelihood, etc. Make sure to let them do most of the talking and ask them open-ended questions.

  2. Concentrate: Regroup with all of your fellow organizers and find a common narrative in the information you guys have gathered. Interpret it using a critical framework relevant to the issues found. Formulate solutions based on the narrative and your group's interpretation of it.

  3. Return: Explain and promote your group's findings and your proposed solutions to the issues that were raised using a variety of tactics. Wheatpaste posters, social media, and good old one-on-one conversations with many of the same people you've spoken to about the issues being discussed. During this phase, one must drum up all the support that you and your comrades could muster for your campaign. A short, memorable slogan is useful in winning mindshare in whatever community you're in.

One must keep in mind that this is an iterative process, and must be repeated sufficiently often in order to not lose sight of the needs of the masses and lose the revolution's foundational strength.

Now, we must keep in mind that this method is optimized for a centralized organization, see how it distinguishes between “organizers” and “community” in all stages of formulating the Mass Line. Not to mention the fact that this is best done by an already organized group. Whether or not having a “vanguard” leading the charge for social change is problematic is not within the scope of this work.

What is within the scope, however, is how you could possibly build a vanguard group, or a network of organized groups working together.

Enter the IWW's Organizing Conversation, AKA...

The A.E.I.O.U.

Developed by the Industrial Workers of the World in order to unionize workplaces and form a One Big Union in order to overthrow capitalism and the state, this method can be easily adapted into many settings and issues.

This can be done with or without a large group assisting you. Although you can certainly perform door-to-door canvassing in the style of the Mass Line, it would not be as effective. This also has the added benefit of, if done correctly, actively including the community or workplace you're organizing into the organization you are building.

Each part has two phases – 10% Introductions and 90% Follow-Up.

And remember, there's no script for doing this correctly, just talk to them as a friend and as a fellow person.

  1. A – Agitate: Begin the conversation by talking about their problems in their workplace or community. Follow the 80:20 principle, let them do most of the talking and ask them open-ended questions. Use leading questions and paraphrasing in order to link their grievances with those in power and how they got their power. Evoke feelings of anger. Anger, being an active emotion, can be directed towards action. Just take care not to fan their flames too hot as to shut down their ability to think!

    • Take note of what grievances and issues that come up in your different conversations, as this will be important later during the Organize phase.

    • After the initial conversation, make sure that their motivation and desire to change their material conditions keep burning. One of the best ways to fuel that is by -

  2. E – Educate: Discuss with them both Theory and Practice.

    • By Theory, discuss with them how and why there is a power imbalance between the community and whatever is causing the issues they're facing. Describe alternatives and socialist solutions. And more importantly, ask them what solutions do THEY see for their concerns. Remember the 80:20 principle.

    • By Practice, discuss how these possible solutions can take shape in the community or workplace you're organizing. Who might be other people interested in the project? Where would be a good place to meet? When should different tasks be done? And, most importantly, why is it important for this project to succeed.

    • And when you follow up with them, make sure that they are developing both the theoretical foundations by asking them what they think about the issue and their thoughts on other adjacent issues. And most importantly how those in power would react to the project, which leads us to...

  3. I – Inoculate: Mentally and preparing your comrades for a pushback from those in power is important to not lose their support, much like vaccines prepare the body for when viruses and certain bacteria attack the body. When you get to this point, open the topic by asking them what they think the company you guys are working for would do, for example, if they found out about your unionization efforts? Or what would the local government do if they found out you and many others are planning to delay, or even completely stop a project that could potentially leave an entire community homeless?

    • During your follow up, make sure to ask them if they think the authorities know what your group is up to, and what things could be done to prevent that from happening.
  4. O – Organize: Everyone is sufficiently motivated. Everyone knows what they're doing. Everyone is mentally and emotionally prepared. Now it's time for some collective action!

    • First, discuss your notes about all the grievances that were shared during the Agitate phase and construct a narrative of what is going on and form an analysis using relevant theories much like in the “Concentrate” phase of the Mass Line.

    • Then, split the tasks that need doing, creating posters, talking to prospective members, etc. Form committees if they always need doing. Then follow up with all the tasks, and have them follow up on each other's tasks as well.

  5. U – Unionize: Depending on the particular needs of your organization, you guys might want to register with the relevant local and national government authorities as they do provide some degree of protection for some forms of collective action. Also, this serves as a way to formally introduce your cause to a much wider audience and allow your organization to join much bigger initiatives like the aforementioned IWW.

    • While unionization might not need follow-ups once you're registered, one must certainly make sure that phases A to O are regularly repeated in order to maintain the organization's momentum and cohesion. This is an iterative process as well and must be a continuous process of re-orientation and motivation.

One could see the similarities with Mass Line, especially during Agitation and Organization phases. The main difference is, the AEIOU process includes the community being organized into the organizing process and finding solutions in a much more direct manner than what could be found in the Mass Line


But, what about both?

Especifisimo is a form of social organizing popularized by the FARJ in Brazil that is summarized as:

  • The need for a specifically anarchist organization built around a unity of ideas and praxis.

  • The use of the specifically anarchist organization to theorize and develop strategic political and organizing work.

  • Active involvement in and building of autonomous and popular social movements via social insertion.

A specifically anarchist organization can, for example, use mass line tactics to assist with a certain issue in a community. After the success of the program, it would then be easier to initiate an organizational drive via the AEIOU process and leave a stable Anarchist presence in the area.

Different tactics aside, the time to act is now. The foundations of the neoliberal world order is buckling under the weight of its own corruption, and we must take advantage of any moment of weakness.

Now more than ever is the best time to be a socialist, and we must not waste this opportunity to bolster our ranks and directly participate in the people's struggle to improve their material conditions. All we need are some boots on the ground, some crazy assholes knocking on people's doors and having serious discussions about their lives.