- how can people make it happen?
Some notes and thoughts on what is possible....

from London Greenpeace, 12 June 1998


Modern industrial, capitalist, state-run civilisation is rotten to the core: money, hunger, power, exploitation, patriarchy, propaganda, violence, obedience, destruction, mass 'culture' and isolation, war, industrialisation, ecological disaster and brutality towards animals... Despite being a comparatively recent and temporary phenomenon in human history - over the last few thousand years overall, the worst aspects being only in the last couple of centuries - a world wide system has been established by the use of force and manipulation.

Our talents and potential, our feelings, solidarity and creativity are continuously undermined and frustrated, as is human fun, co-operation and adventure.

Coupled with the fact that the present course of civilisation is ecological suicide, and that no powerful institution has ever given up an inch of its power voluntarily and without a struggle, reforms are mostly pie-in-the-sky and change nothing fundamentally. Illusions can lead to disillusionment. The struggle for 'reforms' can be useful in developing people's self-organisation and confidence - but the necessity for social and ecological revolution is urgent.

Previous large-scale struggles and experiences have shown that transforming our society is possible. Whether it is likely, no-one can say - it is certainly worth striving for, and it is our responsibility...for ourselves, our planet and for future generations.

People's ideas change, sometimes quickly, through experience and struggle, but generally not through 'propaganda'. There can be no 'blueprints' which people must accept or fit into. Successful and empowering experiences, inspiration from the experiences of others, and common sense, all help to shape the direction we should go (or not go).

Ordinary people's confidence in themselves and each other must grow, as well as confidence in the possibility of creating an alternative, worthwhile free society. A realistic and honest picture or 'vision' of what such a society would be like and how we could achieve it is very important. We cannot afford to ignore or dodge these issues. People everywhere can learn much from the strengths and mistakes of the past, but most importantly they can be convinced that the current system is neither desirable nor invulnerable, and that its survival is not inevitable. In fact, the System is weak. It's just that the powerful minority and their institutions are very well organised, unlike the vast majority of the population. The seeds of the new, sensible human society are in the self-organisation, the struggles and in the positive and progressive attitudes around us today.

Real changes are not made by Organisations, 'leaders' or present institutions - we change our society by the way we act, live and relate to each other, through organising ourselves in the community, through our collective strength and solidarity and mutual aid, through our initiative and confidence, and through class struggle.


People's everyday oppression and experiences can and do provoke collective
responses with the potential to transform our society.

Opposition to 'the way things are' stems from hardship and alienation, inadequate housing, ecological problems, from being controlled, policing and repression, from the breakdown of 'order' and efficiency etc, as well as from people's self-confidence and awareness.

Protests and struggles tend to be isolated from each other. However, when they occur on a more regular basis and begin to link up, the atmosphere in the community can swing to one of awareness, optimism and confidence...resistance and conflict has the potential to spread very fast. If the authorities are unable or unwilling to successfully buy off these partial struggles with concessions, to co-opt them by negotiating with and integrating a supposed 'leadership', or to halt them with repression and State violence, then a 'dual power' and pre-revolutionary situation involving millions of people can develop. This has happened for example in Europe on a number of occasions on a greater or lesser scale over the last 30 years such as in Paris '68, the North of Ireland '70-73, Portugal '74, Italy '77-8, Poland '80 and more recently in other former State Communist countries. There have also been full scale insurrections and social evolutions in history - for example in Paris 1871, Mexico 1911, Russia 917, Germany 1918, Italy 1920, in Spain in 1936 (probably the most libertarian social revolution in human history), Hungary 1956, and in many other countries such as China and throughout Africa and Central America and elsewhere during anti-colonial conflicts. We can learn a lot from the positive and negative features of these momentous popular events, their successes and failures - especially that fundamental change is possible but it is essential that people keep things in their own hands.


Empowering events that have occured in recent years and which can
re-occur, spread and develop

The following practical examples are of diverse and often patchy activities which tend to come and go, with varying shades of intensity and success, not necessarily experienced directly by substantial sections of the population. Yet each is an example of people empowering themselves and therefore inspiring others to do likewise. Each also helps to tip the balance of forces in favour of the public and the working class, and contributes to undermining the 'legitimacy' and power of the establishment and the ruling class:

Strikes; solidarity strikes and picket lines in different industrial sectors at the same time; independent organisation in every street, neighbourhood and workplace; sit-ins and work-ins at workplaces; occupations of empty homes, buildings and local community centres and services; blocking streets and creating temporary no-go areas - using a street all day to communicate and organise, and blocking the flow of traffic; setting up street check points; occupying town centres; partial and mass non-payment of bills; taking food and resources from those who control supplies, and taking temporary control of the distribution of various essential goods or services; resource-share schemes; local mutual trading networks; opening up recycling centres and schemes; street and land parties and festivals; waste-land and park tent-cities; gatherings, demonstrations and carnivals; riots; defying bans on assembly and protest; blockades of or attacks on police stations; sabotage of certain oppressive property or machinery; boycotting and physically opposing animal cruelty practices; prison protest and resistance; dismantling border posts, fences and walls; army and police dissent; ecological defence of green spaces and countryside; setting up nature reserves and reafforestation; rural self-sufficiency and autonomy movements; seizing unused farmland; setting up producer and consumer cooperatives; alternative subcultures outside the control of the authorities; parties and self-organised public entertainment; workers' non-cooperation and resistance to bosses orders and plans; residents' non-cooperation and resistance to the orders of bureaucrats, police and bailiffs etc; defiance of State censorship; using waste-land for events, childrens playgrounds and for growing food; children boycotting school or going on strike; parents' groups and other residents' groups using schools, playcentres and community centres as bases; sharing childcare and opening up places for creches etc; making certain oppressive practices unworkable; protest camps and blockades at sites of oppression (eg. military bases, elite conferences, bank and corporate HQs etc); setting up workshops, cafes, cinemas and meeting places in empty buildings; colleges occupied; invasions and sit-ins of TV and radio, organising pirate 'cut-ins' or pirate radio stations; setting up self-run medical services in neighbourhoods or during events or struggles (and other self-run services - libraries, mutual aid networks etc); car-free zones, and temporary bailiff-free or police-free zones....and many, many more examples of self-organisation and people's attempts to take control of their immediate lives and environment. All these things have happened in the UK and Europe in recent years - imagine if many of these things happened widely and simultaneously....

How the general atmosphere among people can develop positively

The examples just outlined all tend to help create a more widespread positive atmosphere (and vice versa), strengthening community contacts and solidarity networks, stimulating self-organisation, initiative and mutual aid in neighbourhoods, as well as debates in the street, in workplaces and homes, the spreading of information and discussion through the use of leaflets, posters, free papers etc, and a wide range of activities and groups, including anarchist groups. This process can lead to the calling of neighbourhood gatherings, the encouraging of inter-neighbourhood links, inter-city contacts and city-rural direct links, as well as industry-wide and regional workers' solidarity networks and meetings.



Everyone gradually becomes involved and embroiled in the situation when the practicalities of what needs to be done become so great, when the potential to run our own lives becomes obvious, and when it becomes inconceivable for the majority to accept once again the dead weight of oppression and exploitation. Then society moves into a revolutionary situation:

General strikes and occupations of most workplaces, with local and regional workers' councils; sending continual news, messages and calls for action all round the world; repossessing areas under control of the ruling class; abolishing all State borders; liberating and using heavy equipment; the population organising alternative distribution and sharing of food supplies, as well as growing food in all available spaces; labourers and peasants seizing and generally but voluntarily collectivising all agricultural land; working towards maximum local and regional self-sufficiency and autonomy in all matters; abolishing money and profit systems; expropriating all resources; recycling everything possible; abandoning useless, destructive or alienating production - eventually all workplaces are either abandoned, or occupied and transformed; battles for key buildings (high ones, phone exchanges, food depots etc); traffic halted, checkpoints everywhere; all town centres occupied; re-organising transport and communications; seizing, transforming or abolishing the establishment's media; children abandon schools to be in the streets and the community, or schools used as neighbourhood organising centres; people developing group and communal childcare and playgroups in every street, also involving children in all activities wherever possible; workshops and resource-sharing centres in every street; people dealing with anti-social actions (robbery, rape etc) themselves; creating alternative street-based medical systems and a wide range of local workshops; closing cruel factory farms; protecting and extending wilderness zones, nature reserves and forests; revitalising countryside economy and repopulating rural areas, and developing a whole range of new urban-rural interrelationships; army mutinies; people seizing gun supplies; barricading and defending streets and workplaces; confronting and disarming all police and army units; protracted civil war; re-establishing face-to-face decision-making and community gatherings, forums of all kinds and interneighbourhood networking, and abolishing all forms of Government; resisting and preventing any new structures or institutions set up to take power or to control people or their struggles, or to mould community life (whether called 'governments', 'committees' or whatever - or Left-wing and other political Parties, vigilante policing and nascent bureaucracy); drastically reduce pollution and the imposed industrialisation of everyday lives and the ecomomy; encourage maximum diversity within and between communities.

Being determined and making sure of success

We need to create an atmosphere of freedom, solidarity and collective responsibility, self-motivation and empowerment, concern for each other and for all, and respect for individual personalities as well as for individual and group initiative. This needs to be coupled with an unflinching determination to succeed, along with constant debate and self-organisation and self-defence, and constant efforts to involve ever greater numbers of people in cooperation together, to spread to other regions and eventually all countries. We need to transform the existing social, industrial and economic patterns by building on people's experiences and needs, natural social ties and collective common sense to do what needs to be done.


A society based on freedom and sharing, on voluntary but responsible relations and activities, has only been glimpsed briefly and on a small scale. And not everything that has taken place in past upheavals has been positive. The eventual outcome has usually been isolation from the rest of the world followed by mass repression (from outside, or from the new State controllers within). Therefore it seems it is essential that the process of constructive transformation must spread all over the world.

Everyone should be sharing the resources, the work and decision-making as equals, with a diversity of settlements and cultures, and freedom to choose where to live, what to do etc. Children's needs and desires, and their unequalled energy and imagination, should be at the centre of social life.

We need to rethink our dependence on a centralised economy, mass production and industrialisation. We need to 'green' our lives and our environment, turning villages, towns and cities into federations of autonomous neighbourhoods, each as far as possible integrated into and respectful of the natural local surroundings. Due to capitalism's environmental destruction and damage, we'll have to replant forests and encourage wilderness. Road networks and traffic should be at the minimum. Would we be able to end the need for long-distance 'trade'? We need to reassess our relationship with nature and animals and work towards respect for all living things.


Nothing is easy, including the necessary changes we have to make to our society worldwide. However, accepting and obeying modern industrial civilisation for decades to come is the most difficult thing of all for everyone with any awareness of the consequences, with a sense of injustice or of their own potential.

The revolutionary process may involve a whole series of mass strikes and uprisings, no-go areas leading to stalemates or even defeats. New power structures will try to establish themselves and will have to be boycotted, challenged and dismantled. This may all take years or even decades. It's vital that people's struggles be under their own direct initiative and control, not 'representatives'. People must be alert to minimise violence as far as possible, whilst recognising the freedom of individuals and communities to defend themselves when under attack. The important thing is we all continue to struggle for a better society, to learn from our mistakes, strengths and weaknessess, and to get stronger and more determined all the time.

At the same time as working within our communities at the present to build up grass-roots awareness, solidarity and organisation, we need to expand the influence of revolutionary, ecological and anarchist groups and ideas - until it is obvious to all that such a free society is not only desirable and obtainable, but is ours for the taking, together.

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