If last year witnessed the sudden and unexpected eruption of mass movements in countries from Brazil to Turkey, then 2014 is certain to see countless millions in many more countries become part of what is a global street upheaval.
We can be certain about this because the related causes of this tremendous revolt against the present order are universal in their nature. People around the world are no longer prepared to put up with rampant social and economic inequality, corruption and secret mass state surveillance.
They are struggling to cope with the consequences of climate change marked by increasingly frequent extreme weather. Above all, in every country, large numbers are sick and tired of undemocratic political-state systems that are partisan in their rule.
Anyone who give it a momentary thought senses that the interests of the corporations and the banks are put before those of ordinary working people, whoever is in government.
All these immediate causes of social turmoil have their origins in a single process – profit-driven globalisation. So the challenge is create modern forms of democratic organisations that can articulate how to transform the common denominators that keep the system in place.
Fundamental social change – revolutionary change – cannot happen simply as the result of an intensification of existing forms of militancy or protest. People have to form a concept of what their lives as humans in the future could be - in nature, in society, economically and politically.
The task is to turn that concept into reality, by transforming the world around us through collective efforts. To achieve that, we must have an organisational framework that is open to these ideas.
We have to reach out to the future and to base ourselves on the premise that capitalism and its state form are not NOT eternal and that they MUST be replaced in a conscious way.
Without that perspective, we can miss new possibilities as they emerge, maybe where we least expect them.
People’s Assemblies can and should become the forum where we work out what we are FOR and begin to strive to put it into practice, in the teeth of all opposition from those who support the status quo. We should resist attempts to limit Assemblies simply to the role of resisting austerity or to protests against government policy, with a view to electing One Nation Labour in 2015.
Assemblies have to become rival sites of power to the capitalist state, which is the barrier to a real democracy. We have to work out how to dismantle the oppressive institutions that keep us in check and what to replace them with. Assemblies will need expert advice on what kind of co-operative ownership and control can take the place of shareholders and stock markets.
Assemblies could sponsor a People’s Convention to develop a democratic constitution for the 21st century. At present, nationalists in England and Scotland are making the running on crucial issues of state rule. We have already proposed revolutionary self-determination to counter blind prejudice based on a spurious nationality as a starting point.
In the 19th century, before working people won the vote, the Chartist movement rallied vast numbers in the demand for political change. In that tradition, we put forward a contemporary version of the original six demands which we will fight for in People’s Assemblies. They are:
1. A real democracy from the ground up through, for example, Peoples’ Assemblies.
2. The right to co-operative ownership in place of shareholder control; to democracy and self-management in all areas/activities of the workplace; to common land ownership.
3. An economy and financial system that is motivated by meeting ordinary people’s needs and aspirations in place of the accumulation of profit.
4. Social rights to affordable housing, public transport and energy; free continuing education and training; free health care at all levels; employment, paid training or an average wage; a pension that provides dignity in older age.
5. Basic rights to organise, demonstrate and strike independently of the state; rights to justice, transparency and accountability; the right to self-determination within and without Britain and the right of minority communities to equality in all areas.
6. The right to live in a sustainable environment, including the production of food, shaped by ecological care instead of profits as the basis for tackling the ecological crisis in all its forms.
Let’s make 2014 the year of a great leap in human emancipation with the aim of freeing ourselves from the reactionary forces that have made it impossible to let things stay as they are.
A World to Win editors
December 31, 2013