Here’s another section from the latest edition of the Handbook of Economic Disobedience, as I’ve tried to translate it from the Spanish original. I’ve translated previous sections of the handbook for the and Picket Line entries.
Exercise the Right of Rebellion
Join the Manifesto of a New Rebel Dignity
“When the government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for the people and for each portion of the people the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties.” — Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1793
The current Spanish Constitution, dictated by international capital and approved behind the backs of the people, not only does not represent us, but we do not recognize it as binding upon us. In article 135.3 it says: “Loans to meet the interest and principle of the public debt of the Administration shall always be included in the statement of expenses in the budgets and their payment shall have absolute priority.”
With the approval without referendum of this constitutional change it has been demonstrated definitively that popular sovereignty does not control the State, which has been hijacked by financial power. A government that acts for the benefit of a few is illegitimate. According to the Spanish Penal Code: “Those are guilty of the crime of rebellion who rise up violently and publicly for any of the following purposes: to abrogate, suspend, or modify all or part of the Constitution.”
Therefore, and given the hasty, biased, and undemocratic character of this recent constitutional reform, we can determine that criminals are in the government and the structures that go along with it.
The right of rebellion has been recognized for more than two centuries by international law, through, for example, the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen” of 1793. Its function is to assert the right to rebel for the common good in situations like the one in which we live. Faced with the rebel putsch from those above, the right of rebellion from those below.
We are committed to the common good and so, following our legitimate right as citizens, we declare ourselves rebels against the constitution, unsubmissive to the State, and disobedient to all authority that it represents. For this reason we declare ourselves citizens of the popular assemblies and of the assemblies of postcapitalist projects in which we participate. This is the way we exercise our sovereignty.
We promise to do everything we can to construct a new popular power that will enable a new society where decisions are really made for the people. We understand that after the avalanche of indignation we have lived through, the best way to regain dignity is by means of rebellion. We understand as dignity our capacity to disobey unjust laws and/or those that are contrary to the welfare of the people.
Therefore, we commit ourselves to a call to initiate and extend an action of complete tax resistance to the Spanish State and to those who control it, and to consistent action, in order to demonstrate that we will not pay “their debts,” because we do not recognize this Constitution. Tax resistance serves to feed the grassroots assemblies and, from there, to give “absolute priority” to participatory financing of the resources we really consider public.
Since the situation we are living through in the Spanish State is similar to many countries in the world, and since the financial powers that rule are global, we encourage human beings around the world to assert their right of rebellion, by means of manifestos like this.
Tax resistance was one of the strategies of civil disobedience that led India to independence from the British Empire; now it may be a key strategy for us all to gain independence from global capitalism.
We have already passed the stage of indignation, now we are a new rebel dignity!
More information at www.derechoderebelion.net.
You can join this Manifesto and these distinct forms of civil disobedience.
From this manifesto, we envision complete tax resistance to the State in order to redirect our taxes towards self-financed popular local assemblies, arising in many villages following the 15-M Movement, and in some cases connected at the present day into an integrated cooperative.
The local assemblies and integrated cooperatives that are continually being built are some of the examples of self-managed alternatives to the current system, these examples are much more worthy of the investment of popular sovereignty from people who participate daily in politics since the popular assembly movements than are the institutions of the Spanish State.
Some of the best ways to work together can be to organize into a collective, to participate in local assemblies, to create an office of economic disobedience, or to join with people form your area to participate in an integrated cooperative.
And now the Disobedience Becomes Comprehensive
While we live out this new world we are constructing we must take account of the attempted interference of coercion and assimilation this provokes from the states without thereby losing sight of our main goal. It might be the most revolutionary act to dismiss all of them and ignore the masters without slaves, but since those in power cannot do without us, we have no recourse but to disobey; we are attacked by the normality at which we flout authority, whether it be judicial, health, intellectual, cultural, economic, or political.
This is why we chose Comprehensive Disobedience as a necessary condition for construction. To faciliate the understanding of this term, we will introduce the concept of “social contract.” The social contract is a philosophical and political concept that justifies the foundations that link an individual to society.
Comprehensive Disobedience involves breaking the social contract with the State of a territory where one lives, in order to bring into being a new social contract with a community with which the individual is really linked.
As the Comprehensive Revolution progresses, new model communites are going to arise where people will go to be welcomed and we can actively participate in the process of defining the rights and obligations inherent in this social contract that makes it possible to live in society. A self-managed rural community, an autonomous zone, or an integral cooperative would be three examples of these new institutions with which we choose to make this new social contract. In place of delegating our sovereignty to a supposedly democratic parliament, we participate directly in the decisions through genuinely democratic assemblies. By passing from an implicit contract that in reality we never signed to an explicit contract, we are making a leap of empowerment in order that to live in society will also be to live in freedom. In this process, we can at the same time choose to be part of multiple communities among which we divide our participation and commitment; from the more spontaneous and small, to the more structured and extensive, many of which can complement each other because none is totalitarian as though it were the State, and therefore none pretend to control all aspects of the individual but only to cover those areas in which each person decides to join.
The local assemblies, which try always to be more constructive assemblies, self-managed spaces for meeting community needs and integrated cooperatives that are coming into being every day, are some of the exponents of the Comprehensive Revolution, examples much more worthy of the investment of popular sovereignty from people who participate daily in politics since the popular assembly movements than are the supposedly democratic institutions of the State. When we conduct Comprehensive disobedience, we are dismantling the legitimacy of the system of State capitalism, and offering our legitimating participation to a new system.
Now or Never
Martin Luther King said more than 40 years ago: “We shall have to repent in this generation, not so much for the evil deeds of the wicked people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
We cannot let history repeat itself with our generation. A gang of financial criminals has kidnapped what little there may be of democracy in the states and is carrying out a premeditated plot to cut our social rights, just to increase their profits. This situation aggravates the serious ecological, energy, health, social, and values crises that accompany the decline of the capitalist system.
We are lucky to be the most-informed generation in history. We have learned that there are millions of people willing to act. Now there are no excuses.
Indignation is not enough. And only the commitment that is accompanied by an attitude of refusal in the face of the political-financial power can lead us to achieve our objectives. There is no short-term safety that can serve as an excuse to put off our social commitment for later. With mutual aid we can help each other through challenges; with self-management we can solve the problems of our neighbors much better than the State is doing.
To go out in the street and exhaust ourselves is not enough; we must stop obeying, stop doing what we’re told, stop paying your mortgage, stop paying your taxes to the State so you can pay them directly to the people, stop buying from multinationals, stop accepting discrimination of any kind. Whatever your chains are, break them.
There is a lot of ambition and vision here, and some zig-zagging between exhortation and theory, and no small amount of repetition, but I’m becoming a little impatient to see what is happening in practice when the manifesto-writers step away from their keyboards and try to put this vision into practice. How are these mosaics of overlapping autonomous zones to create and arbitrate these explicit social contracts? Can I see some examples?