In a private conversation on that great modern Stoa, Facebook, my friend Tiziana Terranova, endorsed the Objectives of the Debtors’ Party, saying “there’s nothing about these objectives I could not share,” but went on to ask a rather pointed question:
“It is the notion of starting a political party that leaves me baffled, coming as you know from an autonomist political background that has been arguing for constituent power, that is the invention of new institutions altogether. Why try to reinvent an old formula like a political party?”
Why a Political Party?
The answer is all around us. Mass movements are rising and spreading, squares world wide are being occupied, demonstrations are attracting thousands who want their voice heard and their dissent felt. These occupiers, these demonstrators, have not taken to the street as a practical means of forming new institutions, they have taken to the street to make demands.
They address their slogans, their posters and their signs, not to each other to call for new social forms, but to the “1%,” to the State, to the Police, in other words to authority, to power, to the ruling elite. Their demands are political demands; “Read My Lips: Tax The Rich”, “End Welfare for the Rich!”, “Create Jobs Not War!” among many others, demanding a right to housing, education, and health without inescapable debt, demanding a society governed according the interests of the masses, not the few.
Many of us in the currently exploding movement are also actively involved in building constituent power, in building new ways of producing and sharing, in forming and envisioning new institutions within the shell of the old, but we can do so only within the bounds of our class condition, and when we are strapped by debt and precarity, struggling with money and time to meet our basic responsibilities to family and community, we lack the means to form and grow our new institutions, and we lack the means to defend them.
These demands are urgent demands and can not be immediately met by autonomist means alone. So long as we live within a society ruled by Government, these demands must be met by Government, we require a political struggle, not in attempt to take power and impose new social relations through the power of the state, but to contest the interest of the ruling elite on the battlefield of the political process. We must undertake a political struggle to create the space for alternative institutions to emerge, otherwise they are too easily snuffed out where they do rise.
We must undertake a political struggle because the masses are calling out for it, and we must heed that call and respond, not simply reject it and presume to educate them with theory and instruct then to leave the streets and the squares, to go back to Kansas and form a million Kibbutzim because it better suites our vision of the future. To achieve our future visions, we must address the conditions of the present.
All we need to do is read the signs, hear the slogans, listen to the demands of our movements.
The Existence of Demands Proves the Existence of the Demand for Political Representation.
And who is to provide such representation? Are we to expect the parties of the plutocrats to provide such representation? The existing parties have long lost their class character and are essentially publicity outfits selling voters to lobbies in the marketplace of political legitimization.
The time has come for a new party, a party to stand up to the representatives of the interests of the ruling elite, the financial aristocracy, whose power has been unchallenged for decades.
We must have a new party that is formed by, and that represents, the masses that have been dispossessed and are being pushed towards destitution. A party to face down the profit-seeking interests of creditors, who, having hoarded the majority of societies’ wealth among the few, have made the masses into debtors.
The time has come for the Debtors’ Party.
This is not a call for politics as usual to be appealed to to solve our problems, this is a call to Occupy Government.