Communities whose services and living standards are under unprecedented assault by the Con-Lib coalition government should establish their independence from the state through building People’s Assemblies and move beyond resistance.
Delegates to the Assemblies will represent ordinary people’s interests, whether they are young or old, in work or unemployed, in the public or private sectors, trade unionists, women, students, minorities and community groups.
Assemblies will bring together anti-cuts campaigns and all organisations resisting the Coalition’s attack on jobs, services, pensions and standard of living.
A network of People’s Assemblies will have the capacity to facilitate a transition to a democratic society based on co-operation and self-determination instead of profit and corporate power.
They will challenge the lie that there is no alternative to the capitalist system, which has plunged into a global crisis and is the source of the Coalition’s attacks.
People’s Assemblies can:
defend communities against closures, evictions, and job losses
fight for democracy and rights
campaign for action on climate change
oppose war and the secret state
struggle against racism and attacks on minority communities
build links with movements internationally
create a new democratic society through a transfer of economic and political power.
Q: How will Assemblies come into being? A: Through local initiatives of people and communities who want to resist cuts, job losses, repossessions and go beyond protest to build a real democracy.
Q. What is A World to Win’s role in setting up Assemblies? A: AWTW is joining with others to take the idea forward. We advocate the policy of setting up People’s Assemblies wherever cuts, closures or strikes are happening, where young people gather, where people are at risk of benefit cuts, and home repossessions or evictions are threatened.
Q: What will Assemblies do to show they are the legitimate representatives of the people? A: They will have a strong defensive role, as the government launches its attacks. They can learn lessons from others about how to defend communities and individuals. For example, from the movements in the US against evictions, where communities are getting together to stop people being thrown out when they can’t pay their mortgage.
The experiences of Transition Towns who have been encouraging communities to do things for themselves, exploring new ways of living, can provide a source of inspiration.
Assemblies can learn from history – from the Paris Commune, early Soviets or Workers Councils in Russia, from the Councils of Action; the movement that brought down the Berlin Wall to the struggles in Venezuela and Bolivia today.
Q: How will this be different from the old politics? A: The Assemblies will involve and mobilise the whole community, including young people, people from minority ethnic communities, small businesses and self-employed people as well as workers from every sector.
They will show by their own actions that there is another way of living, and another way of “being political” that isn’t about money-grubbing and getting expenses. They will work for education, for culture and a decent life for all.
There will be opportunities for everyone to share their skills and talents, and for young people to work creatively and learn. A wide range of people will gravitate towards them. They will embrace different points of view, not only those on the left.
Q: What will AWTW’s role in the Assemblies be? A: Our Manifesto says: “The Assemblies will also look beyond a failed economic system towards building a true democracy in place of the sham one we live under now.” That is the revolutionary policy we will campaign for in the Assemblies.
The Coalition government is taking the actions it is because the system it serves – the capitalist system – is terminally unstable. It must be replaced.
The existing parliamentary system is a façade that increasingly undermines and devalues the right to vote that was won in bitter struggle against the ruling classes. We have to extend and expand democracy to give expression to what the term actually means – the power and rule of the people.
We will work within the Assemblies to win people to the idea that they should not be talking shops, or just organise protests or social support, but start to see themselves as the legitimate representatives of the people, with the right to replace the existing undemocratic structures of both local and national government. This includes revolutionising the Welsh and Scottish assemblies, which in their present form have dashed the hopes raised by devolution.