In our daily life, out in the streets or at work, we experience the gradual collapse of everything that makes our life meaningful. Like so many people, our only hope in the face of that rising tide of insignificancy, is that it will be possible to change the way things are going presently.
The current devastating race is led by a ruling minority driven and obsessed by accumulation, domination and power. “Representative democracy” and the kind of revolts we see at present only lead to a dead end. Only an awakening of the population and broad-based dedication to a viable, decent world will enable people to address the real problems with which they are faced. To aspire to freedom nowadays means to aspire to radical change, requiring a self-transformation of society carried out by the entire population.
We want a true democracy, carried out by the peoples, in which people decide, by and for themselves, on the course and direction of their societies. That democracy demands individuals capable of respecting, questioning, criticizing and creating rules for both the community and for themselves. It does not mean dreaming of paradise on earth, but making a free, decent, responsible civilization come into being. We therefore want a society capable of setting its own limits in an explicit, lucid way, and of making a clear break from the current dominant ideology. The first step is to invent a critical revival of the ways still widespread in “under-developed” areas: solidarity, sharing, mutual aid, friendliness, hospitality, honesty. These attitudes are the core of a decent society.
We must take steps to ensure that society will be cautious in technological and scientific matters, moderate in consumption and wise in public affairs. The only way to impede the thirst for power is to organize all institutions on the basis of sovereign decision-making assemblies, revocable, accountable officers and the rotation of tasks. And the only way to get rid of the pursuit of unlimited profit is to collectively establish a strict equality of income along with a redefinition of needs. None of all that is natural nor inevitable. Nor is it impossible: such radical changes have already occurred in history.
We identify with the project of autonomy that has developed out of centuries of collective struggles rejecting any order imposed by some external authority: Traditions, Gods, Nature, Science, Market, or Party. That project was born in Ancient Greece and reinvented in Western Europe. It has been embodied by the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the French revolution of 1789, the working class movement, the decolonization conflicts, and the fights led by women, the young, minorities and ecologists. That project for equality and justice is now nearly dead, crushed as it is by the predominance of the Western world’s other historical creation: the delusion of instrumental rationality, extended to all aspects of life.
Our group’s aim is to revive that project of autonomy as a genuine societal project. We have an urgent need for collective intelligence capable of theoretical thinking, political speech and practical action. The forces likely to support that project are still scattered and often unaware of their own strength. Our search for individual and collective autonomy makes sense only through concrete practice, by constantly recommencing, in everyday life, and advancing by groping our way along.