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Manifesto for an International Autonomous Platform

[This manifesto is not the definitive manifesto of the Autonomous Platform, because the Platform does not exist yet but is under construction. It calls to the constitution of the Platform, and tries to define and explain its use, its possible structure and goals]


« Is revolutionary every action that effectively leads to the revolution » .

Insurrection is not revolution. Riot is not insurrection. If riots and insurrections have benefits as it strengthens the bonds between protesters and as it helps to create a sense of solidarity between the participants and/or spectators, these blows are far from having the reach that our poems and theoretical observations give them. We need to question the constructive potential engendered by processes of destruction from a revolutionary perspective. Without a concrete and daily connection between people and the places in which they live, the insurrectional or riotous moment is bound to reproduce itself without any other completion than a distant solidarity which, if it was a great success and a great step in the recent struggles – from the Yellow Vest to Labour Laws in France for instance, hardly exceeds its temporal and geographical framework.


Criticism of the riots: a problem of time and space.

Time first, because with the dispersion of the last wild protest, the momentum is broken. We will start again next time, with more or less blazing and success, it depends, but we will not go beyond the stage in which we had left the last riot. Destroying more can have a significant impact in the moment for example, as evidenced by the riot of Saturday, March 16th which was followed by a strong political/media reaction and a strong sense of solidarity within the Yellow Vests movement, which castigated « black blocks » and other « breakers » a few months ago. However, the stage of construction remains the same, or rather, it is confined to the same domains, namely a distant construction of the solidarity between people and groups isolated from one another. This assertion is true in many cases, whether for repeated mobilizations – one day a week for instance, or for continuous mobilizations over several days. As an example, Hamburg G20 was, for many activists, a phenomenal climax. For a whole week the city was punctuated by our actions, until the district of Sankt Pauli became the world capital of riot for one night on a Friday. Today, what remains of this, if not memories and a nostalgic romanticism?

Space is also a key parameter to consider in order to understand the stagnation of our actions and their results. We do not have a revolutionary space in urban environments besides the space created by the riot, which is insurrectional at best as this space is inherently confined to the temporality of the riot. The streets are ours only when we shout that they are, and still, very often it is only the time taken by the riot police trucks to arrive.


The temporality of a riot prevents the revolutionary space from emerging, while creating a revolutionary temporality requires going beyond the space of the riot.

We must therefore build another space-time in which the riots and their resulting solidarity have an important place, but in which the moment of the riot has a before, a pendant and after. Concretely – to leave the forbidding theory that often marks organizations in the process of formation, we need revolutionary spaces. These spaces are groups and/or organizations that occupy concrete places. Places anchored in firm territories (buildings, neighbourhoods, etc.) and communication networks (social networks, conversations, etc.) in which revolutionaries could meet, prepare, and exchange; but more importantly, it requires a structure that connects these points to form a single space, a revolutionary platform.

To use the example of the G20 in Hamburg once again, without buildings dedicated to tour cause, we could never have held the city as we did. The Rote Flora – among others – and the presence of organizations dedicated to the transformation of Hamburg into an insurgency space were crucial to make this mobilization a success, and more important to create a pre-revolutionary atmosphere. However, despite this important level of organization, the space-time created never became revolutionary. In fact, the G20 – like the usual demonstrations against liberal reforms, is what we could call a « ritual of resistance ».

These rituals of resistance can be defined as all the actions whose objective is to resist to one or several political objects, without ever exceeding them in order to bring a global political and social change. Thus, if the autonomous movement has succeeded during these last years to harden the rituals of resistance, in particular during the Labor Law of 2016 or the movement of the Yellow Vests, these rituals never became revolutionary. They can never become so, simply because the organizational base of these rituals and the space-time that is granted to them are not intended to lead to a revolution. Thus, if the autonomists transformed the « mainstream » demonstrations, those demonstrations have greatly influenced them in return, making rioting the pinnacle of autonomous action – at least in appearance. If this reality is increasingly criticized since late-2016, it is clear that we return to it every time new important political events take place. While this can lead to the « radicalization » of some of the newcomers, many of us observe the slow depoliticization of our protests due to their arrival, « allies », refusing « politics ». In short, the riotous impasse at its height.

To overcome this impasse one must transform and/or replace the organizational base that commands the protests, as well as the objectives that are given by « social movements ». The ultimate goal is the social revolution, its organizational base could be an autonomous platform.


The Platform: against centrality and authoritarianism.

The word platform can be scary because it can easily be associated with the image of a political party, or hierarchical organization. If the very fact of bringing different organizations together on the same platform necessarily implies constraints in the name of collective responsibility – which is to be defined by the groups themselves, we reject all forms of centrality and / or authoritarianism. The goal is absolutely not to build a Secretariat or a Central Group that would give orders and directions.

First, these organizations are not revolutionary, never will an authoritarian bureaucracy erase another, « at best » it will replace it.

Second, no autonomous group or a little bit of autonomy will accept that, and it would be crazy to accept it.

Third, in the event that such an arrangement is made, an organization structured in this way would be counterproductive, erasing every strength that autonomy bears. Hence, what would be the objectives and form of this platform if its purpose is not coercion?


The Platform: breaking the interpersonal bubble, open autonomy to everyone.

A primary goal of the organization is to connect isolated people/activists to strengthen our side. Autonomy has for itself initiative and unpredictability, accessible to all, at least in theory. In reality, our groups and organizations are very often extremely closed socialization territories. Many people are encouraged by these affinity groups to create their own group, which for a person with no or very little contact, theory and/or practice is tremendously difficult and demotivating. Thus, our organization must be open and fight at all costs the insularity that paralyzes and eventually destroys most of our groups.

Breaking this inward-turning tendency, that is, the one that involves the individuals themselves and their relationship to one another within the group, is a key step in the autonomist revolutionary struggle. It is necessary to go beyond the militancy of friendship, to go beyond affinitive quadrant of the revolt which, if it is very important for the first constitution of the groups, limits them once constituted, leaving them no choice but to die due to internal dissensions or the departures of some members. Too many organizations and groups have exploded for stupid reasons, from ego wars that did not say their name to the departure of one key member that was doing all the work. Hence, here must not be a key member, a central core that would in appearance reinforce the group, while in fact being the weakness that would lead to its destruction.

Groups must therefore open up and pick up individuals wherever they can, whether in their neighborhood or at specific events. Doing it in a neighborhood can create a militant socialization space that can lead to a snowball effect, whether through the social networks of people who are interested in groups, or through the construction of an active revolutionary space in the neighbourhood. Doing it during an event can help to connect isolated individuals with existing groups in or around their living spaces, or to lead and help these same individuals to form new groups in the same autonomous fashion as ours.

In addition, everyone should be able to participate as much as possible, depending on their abilities. It is clear that some people will be more « active » than others, for various reasons: economic, charismatic, physical, psychological, etc. But these differences in participation must be limited to a minimum. This requires that all individuals be encouraged to participate according to their ability, regardless of their age or alleged militant legitimacy. As revolutionary groups, autonomous groups must become as close as possible to the equality of participation that would be manifest in the revolutionary society they seek. This principle is closely linked to the idea of ​​power. No individual should have the opportunity to gain the upper hand over others. Thus, while it is quite possible and even necessary to delegate certain tasks to certain people, the entire group as well as the people involved in its actions must constantly monitor the actions of the individuals who are in charge of particular tasks.


The Platform: breaking territorial limitations, building a permanent sense of solidarity.

Breaking territorial limitations is also a key element of the Platform. If intra-national and international solidarities are a reality, it is clear that their events and their implementation are usually punctual – they are not frequent and/or are only symbolic, they show solidarity but do not build beyond the simple distant relation already defined above. A punctual event can be illustrated by the anarchist convoy supporting Exárcheia in Greece, and a symbolic event can be illustrated by a photo taken between two groups who met at one point to exchange or participate in a cultural event such as a concert or antifascist rally for instance.

The objective is therefore to build a continuous relationship between individuals and autonomous groups, whether on a local, regional, national or international scale. By proceeding as such, we can overcome the limits imposed by the borders, assuming that an autonomous entity operating in France is not an autonomous French entity but an autonomous entity. Moreover, this induces a key element of what the idea of ​​collective responsibility needs to consider: that acting outside our basic space is a prerogative of our organizations. Again, the G20 is a strong illustration of this, as it brings together autonomists from different territories, even though this meeting is intrinsically ritual and in a way punctual.


Build our world on the edge of the old one. Penetrate its borders and destitute it. This is the meaning of the Revolution in the 21st century.

The form adopted by the Platform, as we have seen, aims to overcome institutional borders, at least psychologically if not concretely. To put an end to the ideology of power can only be done if, in our minds, this ideology has no more hold. We need to build our groups and our relationships in order to achieve this result; and that this result takes concrete forms in the revolutionary struggle and the permanent solidarity necessary for this struggle. It is not a question of pretending to build the perfect society, that is to say to apply a plan to the revolution like an architect to a building. In fact, it is rather a question of defining a revolutionary horizon, and of doing everything to approach it, while always keeping in mind that nothing touching human societies will ever be perfect. The search for perfection has a totalitarian character that we must always refuse.

We are in line with the Zapatista discourse: « preguntando caminamos », which we could roughly try to translate as « questioning ourselves we walk ». We propose the form and the objectives of the Autonomous Platform in relation to the present context, in relation to the victories and especially the defeats of the recent years. If the Platform is indeed intended to be a decentralized structure, and the different groups encourage the maximum participation of all the individuals who compose them; if the Platform and these same groups wish to avoid being corrupted by a power that would interfere following their possible victories and/or defeats; if the Platform and the groups want to move towards a revolutionary horizon that they know necessarily imperfect; we must ensure that this Platform and these groups make every effort to ensure that no definitive and immutable form can emerge.

While the structures that we face are transformed only to defend their immutable base – namely their relations of power which are necessarily relations of oppression, we must be able to completely transform the Platform, whether locally or globally, if the context requires it; for instance if our strength increases or the repression becomes stronger in some places. Adaptation is key to achieve our revolution. The Platform is not a Party. Such a structure would prevent any evolution and contextual adaptation of the Platform to the material reality of society, and thus prevent us from following a true revolutionary pathway. Thus, the Platform must be able to change its form when the context requires it. For that, no overpower can emerge as it would naturally seek to survive at all costs. A truly revolutionary platform needs to know when a structure needs to evolve, or even when it has to die. Moreover, if the Platform succeeds in achieving its objectives, it will have no choice but to disappear in favor of a communist society.


Destitute power and its ideology.

It is now appropriate to complete this draft definition of what can be described as the Autonomous Platform by presenting the enemy and the mean used to get rid of it. The enemy is the ideology of power, and the mean is destitution.

By ideology of power we mean all that, from philosophical and theoretical bases of all ages and all regions of the world to the maximum or minimum practices of all ages and all regions of the world, justify and lead to the domination of one part of humanity on another. The definition and implications of this domination are broad and encompass elements beyond the boundaries of social structures, such as the over-exploitation of natural ressources which is an indirect domination and destruction of the well-being of certain populations and ways of life for the benefit of other populations and ways of life. In France and more widely in the Western world, the ideology of power postulates that state structures protect humanity from itself, with coercion and order being the keys to achieve social peace. Counterexamples to this idea are legion, whether it is at the level of internal or external affairs, or on issues of conflict or even daily violence. Hobbes may be perceived as one of the most influential representatives of this philosophical trend, trapped in a troubled historical period, his philosophical and cultural heritage, as well as in his own irrational fears, as it is still the case for many of us at the time of the permanent « War Against Terrorism ». Hence, to fight this ideology means to fight against the State, but also against other institutions and structures which precede or derive from the state structure, be they economic, cultural, social, gender, etc.

By destitution, and as our previous argument in favor of the Platform suggests, we mean the construction of a world perpendicular to the old one; that is to say on the one hand, a world that escapes as much as possible the philosophical, physical and psychological hold of the latter through the methodical deconstruction of its presuppositions; but on the other hand, a world that crosses the old one, penetrates and dismisses it little by little, institution after institution. This is where the possibility for real autonomy lies, and in the end, the possibility for a social revolution. The practical implications of such an affirmation are vague, very vague. But this does not mean that it is completely abstract and unachievable.

Part of the methodical deconstruction of the ideology of power is to rethink our ways of life, which is already at the center of « communist theories » and affiliated – we mean by « communist » the revolutionary horizon of suppression of dominations and the advent of the commune.

  • Recently, the ZADs demonstrate all the revolutionary and creative potential of autonomy, despite their relative isolation.
  • In Chiapas, the construction of autonomous structures aims to eradicate as much as possible the Mexican state from the Zapatista territories, even if power relations are still strong within Zapatista municipalities.
  • In Rojava, the question of domination and centrality of power is very important, and the process initiated, although criticizable on many points in terms of autonomy and hierarchy, claims to slowly dissolve regional powers for the benefit of communities, villages and neighborhoods of the territories held by the revolutionary forces.
  • To give an example from the revolutionary anarchist history, the capture of Barcelona by the CNT-FAI following Franco’s coup d’état was made possible only by the existence of a parallel structure to the State, organized around unions and working class neighborhoods.

This accumulation of experiences is not intended to give those who read this text a particular direction to follow, nor to lead them fantasize and idealize certain experiences and achievements, but to show that deconstruction and destitution are already under way, individually and collectively, historically and contemporarily, locally and internationally.

As stated earlier, each particular context will define how we organize ourselves to dismiss the institutions that surround us. Each institution and way of life must be questioned one by one, keeping in mind that they are all, in one way or another, affiliated and/or co-dependent. Thus, let us question the police, their role, what their erasure of our lives would bring, how to effectively erase it, how to overcome the possible void that it would create in a society that is not – and probably never will be – freed from the ideology of power. Do the same with all the elements that make up the structures of domination that surround us.


Wondering and deconstructing; building and dismissing; wondering again. Moving forward.

To summarize, the Autonomous Platform wants to create links between individuals and revolutionary organizations, around the destitution of the ideology of power, that is to say, the domination of some by others, whether on economic, social, cultural, religious, gender, sexual criteria, etc.

One of the major objectives of this Platform will be the creation of revolutionary spaces: spaces of socialization and organization whose goals would be to pursue a revolutionary ideal that they know is impossible to achieve.

These spaces are intended to expand and supplant the existing world by dismissing it, that is to say by making it obsolete. They must in no way be cut off from these institutions or turn inward as these actions can never lead to a revolution.

The Platform is not a Party, it does not give directives, it wants to be an organ of coordination of autonomous groups to bring about the destitution of the world. It has no definitive form, and is meant to disintegrate itself little by little as its objectives are fulfilled.