This text sets out to share some of the discussions within the ARNA network, both about general tendencies in capitalism in the Nordic countries, possible strategies for moving forward and where we currently stand as a revolutionary movement. This is not a definite text of all the contradictions of our societies but these are issues that we have analyzed as having in common across our different countries and as a strategy for how to do develop our struggles as the autonomous movement.
We try to sketch out lines of attack, which we think are possible ways to move the emancipatory, revolutionary position forward, and snatch the political momentum back from reactionaries of all stripes. We are not claiming that we have a complete master plan but hope to highlight a few points that we, as the radical left and rebellious working class people, can develop in and beyond our current struggles. We hope that this text will be seen as an addition to the discussion in the broader left-wing in the Nordic countries and serve as a basis for action.
NEW ARENAS FOR CLASS STRUGGLE
Capitalism has gone through multiple phases throughout its history. From circa 1920-1980's capitalism was centered around factories and factory work, which was also the basis for the labor movement in its various forms. This phase, commonly known as fordism gave workers a relatively high wage at the cost of hyperexploitation of the work of racialized workers in colonies and of specific minorities in the nations of the global north (such as Finns in Sweden) and housewives (who were not paid at all). Fordism created real growth year by year and together with a class compromise institutionalized by Social Democrats gave workers some security as long as they kept to the rules of the capitalist game. Of course, Social Democracy was not just happy to provide this welfare state but was actively pushed by radicals at every turn, their reforms used to keep down the pressure of the revolutionary movement. The welfare state was thus an advancement of material standard but built on capitalist material exploitation and political class compromise to uphold class society.
However, fordism has given way to a new phase of capitalism, aptly named post-fordism. This new phase is characterized by moving factories in the global north to the global south, increased automation of production, precarious work, service jobs overtaking manufacturing ones and a declining rate of growth. Postfordism is built around logistics, being able to move things between the global south and north is a cornerstone of how it was able to move factory production away. Its ideology is neoliberalism, but the issue is not merely that todays politicians (such as Social Democrats) have simply gotten the wrong ideas. The issue is that our whole world has changed and the basis for the welfare state and its class compromise simply does not exist anymore. There can be no return to a supposed idyllic past, a past that as mentioned was marred by social conflicts around class, gender and ethnicity. As always, the material conditions of production dictates the ideology of the capitalist class, not the other way around. Some bourgeoisie politicians try to deal with this new crisis by expulsion of "unnecessary", people such as low-skilled workers and migrants, while others try to develop new models of exploitation. In this, however, both camps only attempt to stabilize a system that has become increasingly crises-ridden.
For revolutionary politics to become a credible alternative for the working class our movement has to show that it is capable of harnessing class power to change society. Traditionally this has been done by socialists mainly in the workplace through strikes. We are, as a movement, too few in numbers, and not currently represented in sufficient concentration in workplaces to initiate large strikes. Furthermore, as we have demonstrated above, there is a lack of large workplaces, that were prevalent in fordism, today. We must look for other arenas for class struggle.
ARNA proposes the field of logistics to be this arena. By blocking the flow of capital in harbors, airports, on highways and beyond relatively few can cause massive disruptions. We can play a crucial role in spreading this practise to broader layers of the working class and show its potency as an arena for class struggle. This does not mean that we see struggles in the workplace as obsolete or ineffective, we merely recognize that, today, it is not the central arena where we show and spread examples of class power. As an added benefit we have also seen in the past the danger of revolutionaries being isolated in the factories and workplaces. Concentrating on logistics forces the struggle out into society and invites participation from larger sections of the working class.
HOW DO WE TACKLE THE RISE OF THE RIGHT?
As we look around in the Nordic countries, and beyond to Europe, it is depressingly obvious that the chauvinistic, nationalist right is on the rise, and have been for the better part of a decade. Although it is not homogenous and its roots, expressions, and tactics vary from country to country, even within a relatively narrow context such as the Nordic countries, it shares some traits. These are racism, antagonism towards the labour movement and the left, and sexism.
ARNA believes that the nationalist right draws most of its popularity among the working class from successfully managing to frame migrant labour as a threat against the welfare state. This is not an a-historical occurence, but one that builds upon the basis of Social Democracy, which lives on exploitation in the global south. Without such a division between workers in different parts of the world, Social Democracy would not even be possible. Thus, the very basis of the welfare state is rooted in a racist division of labor on a worldwide scale.
Through clever use of propaganda the far-right parties balance nostalgia for the welfare state of yesterday and attacks against Social Democracy of today. Since we are not in the business of defending the welfare state but are rather in opposition to it, we enter any debate about migration with an inherent disadvantage since we become forced into either defending Social Democracy, or, because of our (rightfully) strong antiracist and internationalist convictions, are made to look like we are willing to throw the traditional industrial working class under the bus. This is not to say that it is not possible to confront the racist right in political debate on issues of migration, rather that it is not optimal to do so in the current societal climate. It should, and must, be done in the workplace, and on the streets as defensive actions, but if we are to mount a large counter offensive we should choose ground, which is more suitable for us.
The development of a capitalist "antiracist" nationalism, perhaps most prevalent in Sweden, is further complicating the issue where antiracism becomes a question of "human rights" and the ability for capitalists to exploit migrants in jobs that non-racialized workers escape from. Add to that the fact that these rightwing parties and movements have become increasingly adept at manipulating and using mass media to their advantage and it creates a terrain, which is difficult for us to navigate.
There are however, promising arenas in the discussion on women's reproductive rights and feminism. Wherever the radical right appears in the world they attack women's reproductive freedoms and push for a hypermasculine defence of the femininized nation. Indeed, preserving and developing a threatened masculinity in the most reactionary ways possible is a cornerstone of fascism.
This is particularly evident in countries such as Turkey and Poland where the global reaction has found particular strength. It should be noted that the critique from the feminist movement has found particular success, above all in Poland but also in the USA and in Latin America (f.ex. in Argentina). This is the basis of why we believe that this is a fruitful line of attack also for us. In the Nordic countries abortion rights and women's control over their own bodies has broad support, probably even more so than the aforementioned nations, giving us a good position to work from.
In this text we have taken a hold of three important topics to add to the strategical debate within the Nordic countries. First of all we have carefully explained how Social Democracy was never an emancipatory project and that it today has shed its progressive skin and more and more appear as an authoritarian liberal and racist organization. For us living and fighting in societies where capitalist "democracy" can be said to be the most advanced in the world, even as this democracy is in sharp decline, it is central to how we view our situation. Social Democracy is the movement, which has brought about our present capitalist societies and it, and its project, is - even while it is crumbling - necessary to attack politically. This is even more important today when Social Democracy has shed any pretense of socialism.
Secondly we have focused on logistics as a weak point in modern capitalism and linked this to our other topics. We believe there is a great possibility for intervention and experimentation here, and the possibility to perhaps find class power in this age of liberalism and reaction. Thirdly we have approached the topic of the rising radical right through the lens of feminism in order to reformulate our resistance towards fascism and reaction. We are already working on feminist topics and with feminist practice in our groups, but aligning this against the radical right is something relatively new for us but shows promise.
As a Nordic organization which works in small cities like Tampere in Finland as well as capitals like Oslo we realize that there is no catch-all method for every situation. However, we believe that these topics frame situations that we all face and also open up possibilities for large-scale intervention on a regional, national, Nordic or even international scale. This is why we are organized together, to be able to affect change in a way that we are incapable of as smaller groups.
Autonomous Revolutionary Nordic Alliance
The Autonomous Revolutionary Nordic Alliance