The day after the arrests of various members of the Autonomous Groups in France and Spain, several good “revolutionary” souls have seen fit to judge us, even before the State has done so.
We have nothing but scorn for the useless theoreticians who criticize our practice without having one of their own, and who are incapable of conducting anything to a good end, of making compromises, etc, that is to say, all the people who think we are crazy, irresponsible activists, so that they can better justify their own passivity.
If we are “crazy,” our madness isn’t mild: it is the madness of wanting to live; the madness of refusing to subject ourselves to salaried work; the madness that seeks to break the encirclement of basic banalities and to utilize all the possibilities available to us to find ourselves, by uniting and remaining free [disponibles] so as to better affirm the autonomy of our desires, which are not satisfied by capital.
If we are “activists,” our activism exists in the pleasure of the subversive game, of liberating our hearts, of dominating institutionalized fear, of expanding the limits of our possibilities. In the final analysis, we seek to seize the necessary means for our struggle: we use expropriations (either armed or not), falsified checks, etc.; we equip ourselves with the necessary infrastructure (liberated houses, refuges, weapons, false papers, etc); and, to satisfy our desires, we liberate ourselves as much as possible from the constraints of salaried work and generalized misery.
If we are “irresponsible,” our irresponsibility disturbs the established order and those who claim they are negotiating for its replacement. A bomb, a well-placed “Molotov” cocktail, and the détournement of the means of information at the right moment have more practical and positive results than any pamphlet or radical speech.
We are acquainted with the objections to our actions: they are spectacular, terroristic, recuperable; they hide the struggle of the workers, allowing the State to violate its own laws, to reinforce its power, and intensify the repression. But we have nothing to do with the spectacle! We do not want to pass for an organization of specialists, complete with hierarchy, spokespeople and an acronym. We know quite well that the State does not succeed in fixing the attention of the proletariat on the fictional opposition between right and left; and that it must have an organization labeled “terrorist” to fulfill this “role.” The State has no need of us, as a pretext, to exercise its daily terrorism: police terrorism against demonstrations and strikers; the terrorism of the employers’ militias; the terrorism of generalized exploitation.
Our actions do not seek to lead the proletariat, which is self-defined by combating its alienation outside of the politico-unionist terrain (wildcat strikes, sovereign general assemblies). The proletariat has no need of revolutionaries: when it intervenes, the proletariat must do so on the terrain that it has chosen. Placed upon this terrain, the several comrades who work (most often temporarily), or who tactically justify taking a salary because it allows them to benefit from the allocation of unemployment, must effectively intervene in these struggles. The others – we who categorically refuse all salaried work – must provide support, but no more than that. There is no submission of us to them, because the cult of the worker is as harmful as that of the anti-worker who escapes from all constraints. Our actions aren’t the only real and total opposition to Power. They are often limited, specific and subjective (riposts to the assassination of comrades in the prisons, the streets or the workplaces). They are sometimes coordinated around certain points of precise and concrete intervention: nuclear power, the prisoners’ movement, the struggle against salaried work. We claim them (or not) according to our own convenience. It so happens that, not claiming some of them (attacks, expropriations), some other organization or groupuscule appropriates them to give the illusion of a force that their members do not possess and thus they allow themselves to pass as the most efficacious in their competition with the State. This is a strategy of a purely propagandistic [publicitaire] pseudo-abundance that leads its detained and martyred militants to claim any action that makes them appear to be the best defenders of the working class. Such are the spectacular consequences of the avant-gardes: the pretense of believing oneself the bearer of revolutionary consciousness due to one’s acts. We will no longer accept the amalgamation of these organizations and us, just as – as internationalists – we do not accept the amalgamation of us and the organizations that bear either nationalist ideologies (the IRA, the ETA) or third-world ones (the RAF).
We do not admit [into our ranks] admirers or “professionals in solidarity” who systematically approve all our actions, agree to affirm their radicalism in demonstrations, meetings and councils, but who do not dare to risk themselves in the struggles and their consequences. Comfortable positions that allow them to compensate for their alienation with a militant activism, without having to act, take initiatives or prove their determination. We do not admit those who want to make automony into the new fashionable ideology, because they are incapable of producing an active outcome to their verbal radicalism, of comprehending what is new about our praxis, of concretizing and utilizing their [own] critiques of Leftism and reformism, and thus who do not leave their alienation. We prefer not to compromise ourselves with them, nor let them speak in our name. This position isn’t elitist. What we do, anyone can do. And if some of them, pushed by social constraints, decide to begin their own struggle, we will encounter them and communicate our experiences to them; we will explain our failures and our successes; and we will not refuse them any of our means. Their practice must be anti-hierarchical and egalitarian, which is a rule that currently limits our numbers and sometimes leads to splits, but which also prohibits the delegation of power and gives a certain coherence to our revolutionary project by rendering infiltrations more difficult. We guarantee a dynamism that some numerically superior organizations might envy.
The proletariat subjected to salaried labor must now pose to itself, with urgency, the question of armed struggle, and cannot leave this task to specialized groups (ours included); the current social situation in Spain demands it. What the proletarians at SEAT (formerly in ERAT) have done must be reversed, that is to say, instead of sharing the money, a product of expropriation, to help unemployed workers, they should have created the necessary conditions so that expropriation is undertaken in rotating fashion by other proletarians. Each time more extensive, these expropriations would thus favor the creation of new cells [noyaux] of armed struggle in the very heart of the factories. Because of their isolation, they [the proletarians at SEAT] haven’t been able to spread their manner of struggle. Despite this, they have demonstrated that they possess a great revolutionary consciousness, indicating the true tasks that the proletariat must undertake.
We, Autonomous Groups, armed faction(s) of the radicalized proletariat, who reject salaried work – we can only provide initial aid for the creation of armed groups in the workplaces and beyond. These would be groups that must thenceforth prove, on their own, their capacity to assume their own autonomy. This is the unique path by which armed wings for the defense of the proletariat are not created. The strategy of the FAI during the Spanish Reolution is no longer valuable. Today, the proletariat must assume the realization of its desires, when the situation demands it, whether the proletariat is or is not armed, but always on its own.
Our current tasks are to respond to repression and to intervene concretely at precise moments. Alone, we cannot confront the State. These tasks must be taken up by the proletariat as a whole.For the abolition of salaried work and the commodity
(Published in Appels de la prison de Ségovia, Champ Libre, November 1980. Translated by NOT BORED! 3 May 2010.)
 Translator's note: SEAT is a subsidiary enterprise of Fiat, the car manufacturer. ERAT is the Spanish acronym for the Ejercito RevoIucionario de Ayuda a los Trabajadores (Revolutionary Army for the Support of Workers).