The text "Class conflict as an aphrodisiac for successful communication" was written as a response of ASI to, in the moment of its writing intensified, attacks on anarcho-syndicalism by the those days State controllers. In the time when the text was written (July 2003.) representatives of the government (government minister of labor, and government minister of police), as well as union bureaucrats (Miljenko Smiljanic - leader of the largest union central in Serbia, Confederation of the Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (SSSS in Serbian) - union which has roots in state communist era of Yugoslavia and, also, the union that gave support to Milosevic during his reign) started with the media campaign of frightening the workers, by using stories about blood shade that will occur if workers join anarcho-syndicates, and the fear of the foreign investors of the distribution of our propaganda bulletin in front of factories (we can not say that we didn't like this one).
Editorial collective of the Belgrade weekly "NIN" enabled us to present our positions in the form that is in front of you, that had effect - since then attacks from the government and its helpers weakened. But, still, from ones and the others you can, from time to time, hear warnings of this sort - our response stays the same.
Class conflict as an aphrodisiac for successful communication
In recent times anarcho-syndicalism is referred to often, and mostly in some kind of self-styled opinion or intentionally wrongly selected meaning. We are not surprised at a huge level of poor education and ignorance of the representatives of the Government - their abilities and knowledge are bursting around, but never where they should be held responsible; however we are enraged that the so-called representatives of
the workers, union bureaucrats, are publicly stating nonsense, and doing the job for the government - by giving the "hand of reconciliation".
During the past few months mister Milenko Smiljanic, president of SSSS is constantly warning the Serbian Government that, if they refuse cooperation with him, they will face the radicalization of the protests, creation of anarcho-syndicates, and thus, crazy raving of the masses.
To everybody who knows anything about positions that anarcho-syndicalists are taking, whether here or in the world, is clear that what we have here is a cheap propaganda of a bureaucrat who is left without any support and trading cards, and whose position is seriously shaken by the unsatisfied and tricked membership. Anarcho-syndicates never and nowhere propagated unplanned violence and raving on the streets. The thing to which we pointed out many times before is that if we cannot win our rights in the
civilized manner, we are not going to allow the barbarians on the other side to create our lives to their measures; on the contrary, we are going to react in the only way that is understandable to them. In that point Smiljanic is absolutely right in defending the workers form Kragujevac who tried to chat in a violent manner with the representatives of the government (workers of the car and guns factory "Zastava" from Kragujevac tried to beat up minister of finances during his visit - translators note) - it is easy for the politicians to continue their criminal activities after they had left their positions, but the worker who is sacked after the long period of working doesn't have any perspective in this society.
Our ideal is a society without violence. Our goal is a free society of equal, self-aware individuals, ready for the mutual aid. Anarcho-syndicalists were, during all of the past wars, slandered, locked down, tortured and killed for their antimilitarism. To us violence is, really, no fetish. But that doesn't mean that we are going to sit with our hands in our asses and allow for our lives to be thrown down under the carpet of privatization. We are going to use all effective measures, not in contradiction with our ethical positions and really benefiting to the improvement of the position of the workers and other oppressed people, in order to reach our goals. Anyway, let us turn the story the other way: let us ask the State and the bosses what they think about violence. Who is starting the wars and why? Who is using police to get even with those not thinking the same way? Who is bringing private security and bodyguards when he is letting off workers and taking over the factories by force? Who is propagating and making possible the economical model which is keeping
millions of human beings around the world in the position of constant exploitation? That is violence, very obvious and very harsh violence. But, that violence is what politicians and bosses are using to keep their
Union bureaucrats are waving "their" anarcho-syndicalism to the Government to gain government's sympathies and to secure their privileges, offering them dialogues and quieting down the workers. We do not expect that politicians are going to have great opinion on us, neither do we care about what they think (that is, if they think at all), but it is the other reason to why union bureaucrats are trying to forger and twist our methods of the fight for worker's rights which is interesting: disappointed membership of the "big" unions, aware of the fossil likeness of the union bureaucracy and disgusted with mountains of lies, is starting to massively abandon union centrals. By slowly understanding ineffectiveness of the hierarchical, authoritarian unions, several local and regional councils of the SSSS got in contact with our union. To every reasonable, civilized human being it is clear that his/hers voice can best be heard in non-hierarchical, direct-democratic unions in which the decisions are made only by the membership and not by the bureaucrats, appointed from above, who therefore don't have the same interests as those who they should supposedly represent.
Unlike mainstream unions, decisions in our union are not made by bribed leadership (SSSS), Serbian Government (ASNS) or foreign funds (Nezavisnost) but only the membership. Our statute doesn't allow any other option. (ASNS is the yellow union of Serbian Government, it's head is the minister of Labor, Nezavisnost (Independence) is the union with close ties, to put it nicely, to the US AFL-CIO - translators note)
During the protest walk (on 25th of Jun) Smiljanic and his clique was constantly trying to separate us from the protest, calling the other workers to boycott us, however they were faced with crazed response of the workers who saw through real motives for that call. Enraged gun makers almost physically resolved the matter with one of the SSSS bureaucrats who was yelling for "getting out of these people with red and black flags and anti-state banners".
We will repeat the basics of our activities. We didn't choose to attack anybody. We are all living in the permanent war of the State against the society and the bosses against the workers. This is transparent in the relation of the State towards the media.. (Serbian Government recently stated several lawsuits against several magazines and radio/TV stations (including NIN) who were criticizing the work of the Government -
translators note) We are responding to their attacks. We are defending ourselves. The society can formulate its resistance in different ways, but the only way to finish with the society of the exploitation, once and for
all, power of one human being over another, the suffering, the pain, the poverty and the lies, is to organize, here and now, into the revolutionary unions who are not going to stop with the fight until we start living in freedom.
This means that we do not need a new Valensa or any other bureaucrat who will climb to a position in the State, over the backs of the workers. Also, if we are aware of the origins and the ways to which we got ourselves in this humiliating situation it will be clear to us why we are not bothering ourselves with the questions such as: which party is in the power, or should we collect signatures for this or that side against those. Can the activities in the process of change of any government bring anything really important to the workers? How many times do we need to experiment with the trust we are placing into the politicians? Politicians and bosses are working together, and in that way are keeping their privileges. Leave them to their fights and let us focus on our goals: a better life here and now. Does that mean protests in the streets? Blockades of the roads? Occupation of the factories until we get what we asked for? Demands for the four hour working time? General strike until fulfillment of all of our goals? Can anybody forbid us such actions?
Anyway, one dictatorial regime was taken down in that way, and the other one climbed up - using the chaos. We should never let the politicians and bosses use our struggle for their goals again. We do not need a cooperation with political parties. We don't need their support. For creation of new social relations, equal, nonhierarchical relations between human beings we do not need shepherds/leaders but, as for all other positive civilization goods that we got against dark forces of obscurantism, only a little bit of self-respect.
Postmodern "thinkers" are trying to convince us that we are living in the time in which ideals do not mean anything. We do not embrace that, because by accepting those positions human kind would also accept the idea that, through history, those spineless creatures only after their petty, egoist goals were right.
Before everything else, we are fighting for human dignity.
Belgrade local group of Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative