[Prefatory Note, June 2007: Here is an excerpt from a letter to Perry Anderson in July 1984 which describes the context in which this was written: "[The Draft Constitution] was an attempt to create in imagination a concrete picture of the institutional structure of true communism. I had only been in the radical movement two or three years at the time, dating especially from the strike at Columbia University in May 1968, so some of the terminology sounds a little strange now (e.g., caucus instead of council). I had attended a conference in Philadelphia in September 1970, organized by the Black Panthers and widely attended by many activists in the movement. The conference was planned as a warm up for a constitutional convention to be held in Washington, D.C. in November. It was an extremely stimulating weekend, but I was so distressed by the general direction of the thinking going on there that I decided to go home and write up my own version, which I did. But I now regard the Philadelphia conference, in spite of its failures, as one of the high water marks of the American New Left, and have often wondered what became of all the materials generated there. As it happened, the November Constitutional Convention was aborted, by force of arms. We gathered there at the appointed time and place, many thousands of us, ready to convene, but were barred from the hall, while the organizers were arrested and hauled away. I never learned exactly what happened, except that the Panthers were under heavy attack, soon to be done in completely. I distributed a few dozen copies of my draft constitution to the frustrated founders of a real democracy." (I had cut the stencils myself, on an IBM selectric, and run off several dozen copies on an office mimeograph machine.) -- The resolutions passed at the Philadelphia conference were eventually published as an appendix in George Katsiaficas, The Imagination of the New Left. It's no wonder I was distressed by them. They were mostly demands to strengthen and expand the welfare state. -- So what of my Draft Constitution? Well, its unique feature is that it was based on direct democracy. I combined a standard workers councils approach with direct democracy. I defined true communism as "A Network of Workers Councils United on the Basis of Direct Democracy." This approach infused all my writings from then on throughout the seventies. And it is only because of this that these writings are still somewhat relevant. Otherwise, though, my scheme had, as it is possible to see now, severe problems. The attempt to overlay "lower level assemblies" on the basic structure of the network of workers councils was way too complicated and indeed unnecessary. (In comparison, the two-page sketch in Getting Free of the basic structure of an anarchist society is beautifully simple and elegant.) Also, voting procedures had not been adequately conceptualized. (In fact, it is only just recently that I think I've finally succeeded; see my June 2007 essay on "Making Decisions Amongst Assemblies.") The Bureau of Dirty Work was definitely a very bad idea. Even so, in spite of its weaknesses, I remain rather proud of this piece of work. At least I was thinking concretely, and leaving behind the useless abstractions. I wrote it in about two months, months I should have been working on the dissertation. But who could care about a fucking disseration when we were headed for a Consitutional Convention to establish a free society? It's always better to make history than study it.]
Workers Control: A Blueprint for the Future
A Proposed Draft Constitution for our Post-Revolutionary Society
The draft constitution presented below is an attempt to give a specific and detailed form to the central idea that has inspired the Left ever since the emergence, in the middle of the nineteenth century, of the radical critique of capitalist civilization: the concept of workers control.
The idea of workers control catches up many of the great ideals of the eighteenth century enlightenment and of the utopian socialist thinkers of the early nineteenth century, but reformulates them in light of a more realistic analysis of the structure of power in a capitalist society and of the struggle necessary to achieve these ideals.
The Expansion of the Wage-Laboring Class
Workers control is a much more viable objective now than it was, say, in the nineteenth century, for the simple reason that now there are more workers (workers in the sense of wage-laborers). In the nineteenth century most countries still had very large peasant classes. The number of people who worked in factories and offices for a wage or salary was very small indeed. Nevertheless, these groups were primarily responsible for the revolts that swept Europe in 1848. In retrospect these revolts seem pitifully premature and they were easily defeated. Even the revolution of the working people of Paris in 1870 involved only a few hundred thousand people even though practically the entire working class joined it. It was thus easily isolated and brutally crushed, with the slaughter estimated at thirty to forty thousand persons.
England was the sole exception to this pattern of a tiny wage-laboring class. In England, rich landowners had been pushing peasants off the land for centuries in order to make pastures for sheep to get wool for the textile mills. There was thus created a mass of landless and uprooted people who were forced to take jobs in the factories as wage-laborers in order to live. This process was well advanced by mid-nineteenth century, and it was by studying England carefully, of course, that Marx and Engels were able to decipher the dynamics of a capitalist society. They foresaw that a very similar process was likely to take place elsewhere.
It is only in the last half-century, however, since World War I, that this process, this expansion of the wage-laboring class, has become pronounced and fully developed in the United States. In the nineteenth century most people in the United States were small farmers producing for the market (i.e., small business people or capitalists or `petty bourgeoisie'). There were also large numbers of small businessmen and shopkeepers as well as many self-employed doctors, lawyers, and architects. The number of factory workers and other wage-earners was small by comparison. These self-employed shopkeepers, professionals, and small farmers constituted the vast middle class of the United States, being neither wage-laborers nor big businessmen. But these groups have virtually disappeared from our society. There are no small farmers left, to speak of, but only big business farmers running factory farms. Now most lawyers work for a salary in a law firm. Most doctors work for a hospital, be it private, university, or government owned. Small shopkeepers have been gobbled up by huge chain stores. The United States is now a society of wage-laborers. Nearly everyone works for a wage or salary. The main ones who do not are the independently wealthy, those who live off profit, that is, the big stockholders or big property owners. If one's means of livelihood, or source of income (that is, one's relation to the means of production) is taken as a criterion for dividing people into classes, then Amerikan society has certainly become a two class society – the vast millions of wage-laborers on the one hand, and the independently wealthy (the capitalists) on the other.
The Destructive Repercussions of the Wage-Labor System
This wage-labor system has had an enormously destructive impact on the masses of the people. It is not only that it is unfair, that the rich live high off the labor of the poor and that workers produce more wealth than they ever see on their pay checks. There are other similarly evil aspects to the system. For one thing, it forces people to submit to an authoritarian regime at work. Capitalists own the factories and offices and they make and enforce the rules there. As technology has become more complex, requiring more highly skilled workers, the tyranny and regimentation of the factory has been augmented by the tyranny of the school room, and, increasingly, by tight regimentation by the state of many other aspects of people's lives as well. For another thing, the wage-labor system entails deep alienation of people from the products of their own labor since they have no control over either what they make, how it is used, or who gets it. There is further the profound and chronic anxiety stemming from the fact that a person's very livelihood depends upon finding and keeping a job. This dependency on a job for an income creates a pronounced sense of powerlessness. But perhaps worst of all, each person is thrown on his or her own, isolated, and prevented from cooperating with others to meet the needs of life. Capitalism has virtually destroyed the human community. The population has been atomized and individualized and rendered powerless and insecure. The wage-labor system is the main mechanism through which this has been accomplished. The destruction of this hated system of wage-labor and capital must be our primary objective. This is tantamount to defeating the ruling class and establishing workers control over the means of production.
Workers Control and Democracy
Workers control simply means that these workers, these wage-laborers, who now constitute practically the entire society and have a similar position in the structure of the society in that they all work at a job for a wage, should take over control of the society and work for themselves rather than for the few people who own the factories and offices. Since these workers now constitute `the people', for all intents and purposes (excluding the ruling class), the idea of workers control approaches in meaning what we in this country have traditionally thought of as democracy – government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Of course, the actual institutions that have come to be associated with this phrase are another question entirely, but the idea at least is an accepted part of our heritage.
Until quite recently, of course, most of us firmly believed that the United states was a democracy, a government by the people. Now we know that it is not, nor was it ever, a democracy. The United States has been a capitalist society from its inception. Most of the original colonies were established and owned by joint-stock companies, or even, in a few cases, by a single proprietor. These people sought to realize a profit from the colonies, from their properties. Thus the United States has been from the very beginning a democracy perhaps of businessmen, by businessmen, and for businessmen, but never a democracy of the people. The structure of the entire society is biased in favor of the business classes. It is profoundly pro-capitalist. The legal institutions, the laws, the `separation of powers', the system of property, the school system, the police, the Armed Forces, and especially, the Constitution, all function to protect and preserve a society in which businessmen and the businessman's incessant drive for profit will continue to be the dominant force. Thus our present institutions constitute in reality a `dictatorship of the capitalist class', of business, of the `bourgeoisie'.
The nineteenth century radicals reversed the terms in this expression. They called for the `dictatorship of the proletariat' and this expression is still used today in some circles. But nowadays it is a confusing and unfortunate phrase, at least for most people in this country. Not only is dictatorship a bad thing, the exact opposite of democracy, but few people even know what a `proletariat' is. We have always talked instead about `the working class', or simply `blue collar' and `white collar' workers. A more understandable rendering of the expression then is the `hegemony of the working class,' or simply workers control, the idea being that workers, since they are the vast majority of the population, should gain control of society and restructure it to serve the needs of the many rather than the few. There is certainly an element of dictatorship involved in this – a dictatorship over the defeated ruling class. Workers will dominate and impose their wills on all those who strive to reestablish a society with a privileged ruling class. And of course if wage-laborers had won in the nineteenth century there would have been a further element of dictatorship involved because large classes of peasants and small, self-employed businessmen still existed at that time in most countries. The proletariat would have had to dominate those groups as well as the defeated big businessmen.
But now, in the latter twentieth century in the United States, practically all of us are wage-earners. To establish a dictatorship of the proletariat means simply to establish a democracy, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
The Structure of a Businessman's Democracy
However, we must not confuse the institutions created by businessmen and called democratic (that is, a bourgeois democracy) with the institutions we must establish in order to have a workers democracy. The present Constitution, representing as it does the actual social and economic supremacy that capitalists had achieved by 1789 over other classes in the society, creates a legal and governmental apparatus designed to preserve and perpetuate the power of the capitalist ruling class. First of all, it places decision-making power not in the hands of the people but in the hands of so-called representatives, thus opening the way for ruling class domination of legislation through control of political parties, control of elite colleges, campaign financing, gerrymandering of voting districts, rigged elections, control of communications media, and other forms of manipulation. Secondly, it weakens the decision-making powers of even these so-called representatives by separating them from executive and judicial powers. Thirdly, it further weakens the legislators by splitting them into two assemblies which must reach agreement on all proposed legislation. In one of the houses, the `upper' house, members serve for six years, thus further removing them from the people and giving them a stronger voice than members of the lower house, who serve a shorter term. The House of Representatives, the only part of the system that is even remotely close to the people, has less power than any other branch of government. Fourth, to top it off, the President was given a veto power over the Congress, as well as other formidable powers, thus making the executive branch far and away the most powerful element in the system. Fifth, supreme judicial power was placed in the hands of nine people appointed by the President, and thus, once again, removed from the control of the people.
All in all, it is clear beyond any doubt that the famous system of checks and balances was designed mainly to check the power of the people and to tip the balance in favor of the propertied ruling classes. What the Founding Fathers were really afraid of was a popular mass democracy. They had just spent a whole decade defeating the radical lower class people who had fought and won the revolution and they wanted to make sure that the egalitarian impulses of the common people never gained the upper hand. Thus, in addition to covering their privileges with a cloak of legality, as the `sanctity of property', (their own property), they invented a complex system of checks and balances designed to preserve their social supremacy. They were obsessed to guard against what they called the tyranny of the majority. Nothing illustrates more clearly than this phrase does that democracy in this country has always been a democracy for the ruling class only. The falseness of formulating the problem of democracy in terms of the tyranny of the majority is almost unbelievable. Yet even to this day so-called political scientists slave away at this false problem, naively assuming that the United States is a democracy, that it is an egalitarian society, that the majority rules, and that the key problem is how to protect the rights of minorities.
The Question of Minority Rights
But the majority never in fact achieved power in this country. The real problem has always been and still is the violation of the rights of the majority by the tiny, rich minority, the capitalist ruling class. An unequal structure of power and wealth is in fact what creates the so-called minority problem to begin with: some people are cheated out of their fair share, and often these people are selected on the basis of their color, or sex, or age, or native language.
The question of minority rights would take on an entirely different light in a truly democratic society, in an egalitarian society, in a society without a ruling class. If power and wealth were in reality distributed equally that would in itself constitute a solution to the minority problem, for it would mean that no person, or no group, was being deprived of its basic rights. Moreover, it would be in the interests of the majority to preserve this equality because the introduction of inequalities would open the way again to tyranny and exploitation.
This is not to deny that a majority in a true democracy might seek to deprive some people of their basic rights, but then this would be not so much a question of minority rights as it would be a problem of defending inviolable rights that are guaranteed to all people. The solution to the nationalities question is thus really synonymous with the achievement of an egalitarian and democratic society.
Bureaucratic Centralism versus Chaos: A False Dichotomy
We must be careful also not to fall into the false dichotomy that has so plagued radicals for almost a century now – the painful dilemma of supposedly having to choose between a centralized bureaucratic elite and no planning at all. The problem has been to discover a method, in the absence of the market mechanism of a capitalist society, to coordinate the economy. If the economic life of a whole country is to be planned rationally to meet human needs then this has always appeared to require planners, an elite, bureaucrats. Many radicals have rejected this system, preferring instead to drastically reduce the size of economic, social, and political units to the point where direct cooperation and planning by the people involved would again be possible. There is a third option which provides the obvious way out of the dilemma – direct democracy for the entire population. Of course, in the nineteenth century and for a good part of this century, direct democracy in a large population was a more or less practical impossibility because the means of communication were inadequate for the task and techniques for tallying votes were cumbersome (although ways could probably have been found even then if it had not been for the power of the dominant groups).
In our time, however, direct democracy is entirely feasible. Under direct democracy the people would decide on basic policy. They would make decisions themselves, rather than elect a decision-making elite. The people would set the main parameters for the economic plan. This having been done, representatives could administer and coordinate the plan in accordance with the policy decisions of the people. This would make it possible to coordinate economic production over large territories without violating the will of the people by relinquishing power to the bureaucrats.
Workers control, not ruling class control; political, economic, military, and judicial power unified in the hands of the people, not separation of powers; direct democracy, not representative democracy or bureaucratic elitism; equality not privileges; a fair share of the work and a fair share of the wealth, not slavery and exploitation; autonomy and cooperation among the people as a whole, not fragmentation of the people. These are the principles upon which we must build our new society.
A Brief Description of the Proposed Institutional Structures
The Workers Caucus: The Workers Caucus is the central institution in the proposed system. Political, economic, military, and judicial power is concentrated in its hands. That is, the Workers Caucuses, taken together, control decision-making, production, defense, and jurisprudence. Thus power is firmly in the hands of the people since all active adult members of the society are members of a Workers Caucus.
(a) The Workers Caucuses, in their decision-making capacities, will deliberate and decide on policy questions of basic importance. Decisions about how much to produce, what to produce, how to spend the wealth, how to divide up the work fairly, and defense matters, are among the most important questions of basic policy.
(b) As a productive unit, each Workers Caucus will have jurisdiction over the internal operations of its own workplace. (The overall production plan for the entire interregional unit is established by all the Workers Caucuses taken together however. That is, a Workers Caucus is in no sense an autonomous unit with regard to either decision-making, production, or defense. Rather, all the Caucuses taken together constitute the autonomous unit.) When a work operation involves more than 60 workers (the maximum size for a single Workers Caucus) several Caucuses will form a coalition, a Production Coalition, to administer the workplace. Each Caucus in the workplace will continue to meet, deliberate, and vote separately, but internal work policy will be established by all the Caucuses in a given workplace. Delegates will be selected, on a rotating basis, to form a steering committee to administer the workplace in accordance with the policy decisions taken by the Caucuses working at that location.
(c) Each Workers Caucus also constitutes one unit in the People's Militia.
The Lower Level Assemblies: There are three lower level assemblies, each composed of delegates from workers councils. The sole responsibility of the Interregional Assembly is to administer and coordinate the economy in accordance with the policy decisions of the Workers Caucuses. The Local Assemblies and the Regional Assemblies coordinate activities that are best handled within these smaller territorial units, as decided by the Workers Caucuses. The Local Assembly has the additional important function of coordinating defense activities.
The Local Tribunal: These local courts constitute the highest judicial authority in the land. They are composed of twenty people selected at random from members of the Workers Caucuses in the area, for terms of four months. All twenty people on the court have equal power. There are no professional judges.
The People's Militia: Each Workers Caucus will constitute one unit in the People's Militia. These units will coalesce to form larger groupings in accordance with a plan approved by the Workers Councils, as coordinated by the Local Assembly.
The Bureau of Dirty Work: Work is to be divided into dirty work and creative work, and each person should do a fair share of each type of work. The Bureau of Dirty Work allocates the dirty work part, in accordance with the priorities set by the Workers Caucuses (see Part III).
A Proposed Draft Constitution for our Post-Revolutionary Society
We, the people of North America, having waged a victorious war against the ruling classes who have dominated and exploited us and our parents and our grandparents and our great grandparents, for as long as we can remember, and having abolished forever from our land the hated system of wage-labor and capital, do here set forth, by mutual and voluntary agreement, principles and arrangements to guide our common endeavors in the generations to come.
Part I: Principles
Article 1. Human beings, in cooperative efforts, interact with the physical environment to produce the means for sustaining human life. Thus wealth is socially produced by people acting upon nature.
Article 2. The interdependence of humans is now worldwide in scope. The world is one world and humankind is one society.
Article 3. The world belongs to the people of the world.
Article 4. The people belong to the world. Human beings are a biological species and as such are as much a part of nature as any other living thing. Humankind can violate its natural habitat only at the cost of ultimate self-destruction.
Article 5. Two essential tasks are necessary for human life to continue: (1) work, and (2) decision-making. Decision-making is in reality only a form of work, requiring time and effort.
Article 6. Work and decision-making are defined as duties for all able-bodied adults in the society (excluding the young, the senile, and the sick). Every adult must undertake a fair share of the work necessary to live.
Article 7. All participants share equally in power and responsibility for the execution of this work. That is, every participant has an equal voice and is equally accountable.
Article 8. All workers, as well as the young, the old, and the sick, have a right to an equal share of the wealth produced, after biologically determined needs such as nourishment and medical care, and after essential public services like transportation and communications have been met. Thus, wealth is distributed equally except where (1) needs vary innately, or (2) it is reasonable to provide for certain needs through public services even though these services may be used somewhat unequally by different individuals.
Article 9. Able bodied adults who refuse to work or to participate in decision-making processes, that is, persons who do not contribute their fair share of the work necessary for human survival, forfeit their rights to an equal share of the wealth and to equal power and responsibility for the work. They are considered parasites, leeching off the toil of others, and will be rehabilitated if possible or restrained if necessary by the rest of the people.
Article 10. Human society is not accurately described as an aggregate of autonomous individuals because all humans are social beings who are interdependent on one another. No one is autonomous. Neither is it correct to say however that individuals are totally subordinate to society. The very words individual and society fail to catch the reality of human life, which involves a process of reciprocal interaction in which each is shaped and in turn shapes. Therefore we reject both individualism, or the view that the individual is morally autonomous and thus embodies the supreme value, and nationalism, or the view that the state is the supreme value, with the individual finding significance only in service to it. What we say is that we are all in this together and must work together for our common welfare, and that there should be no privileged individuals, groups, or classes, since well-being is a collective achievement, not an individual one. Only under capitalism did well-being appear to be an individual achievement, and falsely so, because in fact, privileges and inequality were an inherent feature of that type of society.
Part II: Decision-Making
Article 11. All power belongs to the people and is vested in the people's Workers Caucuses, which are small deliberative bodies of workers meeting at their places of work to settle questions of basic policy. These Caucuses may not exceed 60 members nor be less than 30 members. If a given workplace does not have 30 workers then workers from several different places will band together to form a Caucus. Every working member of the society (i.e., everyone except the sick, the young, and the retired), must belong to such a Caucus and participate in its proceedings. Only workers can vote in a Caucus.
Article 12. Voting is done in the Caucus but votes are tallied across Caucuses, each worker getting one vote. In general, votes will be open and public except in cases where a Caucus may prefer secret voting, as in the selection of delegates.
Article 13. The time necessary to make these decisions about basic policy is to be considered work time, obviously, and calculated as a part of the work week. Thus each Caucus has two tasks – regular work and decision-making – and it will allocate its time accordingly.
Article 14. Each Caucus will have total and unrestricted access to any information, knowledge, or opinion, in any form whatsoever – books, documents, film, speeches, advice, tapes, and so forth – that it may deem essential to its work.
Article 15. Workers Caucuses will federate locally, regionally, inter-regionally, and globally. Each Caucus will elect one of its members to serve in a Local Assembly for a two year term. No person can serve more than once every 20 years. Only persons who have worked in a Caucus for at least six months can serve as its representative to the Local Assembly. Each Local Assembly will select a person or persons from among its members to serve in the Regional Assembly and each Regional Assembly will select a representative for the Interregional Assembly (and each Interregional Assembly will do the same to help form a World Assembly, when the time comes). If the local representative from a particular Caucus is selected for service in the Regional or Interregional Assembly that Caucus will send a second or third person to replace the representatives displaced. Representatives must maintain close communication with their own Caucus for advice and guidance and must report in person to the Caucus at least once a month. Representatives are subject to immediate recall and dismissal by the Caucus. Caucuses will elect representatives on a staggered schedule so that at no point will all members of an Assembly be new.
Article 16. The largest unit within which Workers Caucuses vote as a block depends upon the level of social and economic integration that exists in a society. In our own country, for example, there exists a highly complex and integrated economy stretching across the entire continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It is feasible, therefore, and in fact necessary, for the Caucuses in the entire interregional unit to vote as one block on questions of basic policy for the inter-region. The interregional unit therefore is the autonomous unit in our own case. Relations between our own interregional unit and other autonomous local, regional, or interregional units will be determined by negotiation and treaty, until such time, that is, when a World Assembly can be established. Questions about matters within the country, however, will be decided by a vote of all the Workers Caucuses in the whole area.
Article 17. Nevertheless, all questions that can be settled on the local level should be, and if not there then on the regional level, with the caucuses in each local area or region voting as a block on matters pertaining only to their own territories. However, the decision about which issues are local, which regional, and which interregional must be made by all the Caucuses in the interregional unit.
Article 18. Workers Caucuses, taken together, are the final authority on all matters, no matter how trivial. Normally, however, only matters of major consequence will be deliberated and decided directly by the Workers Caucuses. Specifically, the Caucuses will directly decide questions having to do with: (1) how much to produce (i.e., how long to work); (2) what to produce; (3) how to spend the wealth that is produced (i.e., investments); (4) how to divide up the work fairly; (5) treaties; (6) defense; (7) the definition of crime; (8) what level – local, regional, or interregional – to coordinate particular activities on; (9) their own agenda (i.e., the Caucuses will decide what is of major consequence to be decided by themselves, and what can be left to elected representatives); and (10) the procedure for establishing the agenda (this obviously is the first item of business). In addition, each Caucus will have jurisdiction over the internal administration of its own workplace.
Article 19. The Workers Caucuses will establish procedures to protect and guarantee the fairness and neutrality of all voting procedures and equipment.
Article 20. The Interregional Assembly is charged with the coordination of the economy within the parameters set by the Workers Caucuses as specified in Article 18. Its task is to undertake such planning and administration as is necessary to implement the decisions regarding the economy taken by the Workers Caucuses. The Interregional Assembly has no legislative authority. It has no authority over any of the matters listed in Article 18. Its sole function is to coordinate the economy in accordance with the people's intentions. It is in every respect a subordinate body.
Article 21. The Regional Assemblies will administer and coordinate all activities that are best handled within the regional territory, as determined by the Workers Caucuses.
Article 22. The Local Assemblies will administer and coordinate all activities that are best handled within the local territory, as determined by the Workers Caucuses. One of its prime responsibilities however will be the coordination of defense activities in accordance with plans and procedures approved by the Workers Caucuses.
Part III: Production
Article 23: Each Workers Caucus is responsible for the internal administration of its own workplace, within the parameters set by the Workers Caucuses taken together in the interregional territory. If an operation of production requires more than 60 persons (the maximum membership for a single Workers Caucus) then several Workers Caucuses will work on that operation together and will consider themselves a Production Coalition in order to accomplish the work. Each Caucus in the workplace will meet separately to deliberate and vote, but all the Caucuses taken together have authority and responsibility for the work. If they deem it necessary the Caucuses may select delegates to serve on a rotating basis for a one year period on a steering committee to help coordinate the production activities at the workplace.
Article 24. Since work is necessary to human life and since human beings are social animals interdependent upon one another, it is considered only right that each member of society do a fair share of the labor necessary for our common survival. The amount of work undertaken is to be decided by common agreement among the people, as specified in Article 18.
Article 25. Final responsibility for determining what constitutes a fair share of the work rests with the Workers Caucuses.
Article 26. Nevertheless, at the very minimum, work will be divided into two basic categories: (1) dirty work, and (2) creative work. The Workers Caucuses will decide on the minimally necessary number of years that each person must work at each type of work. The two categories together constitute the working life of each individual.
Article 27. Dirty work is work which is hard, boring, or unpleasant, and which no one wants to do, but which nevertheless must be done to perpetuate human society or to implement the decisions of the Workers Caucuses about what to produce. It is considered axiomatic that dirty work will be eliminated as completely as possible or else will be undertaken only by common agreement. The Workers Caucuses will decide what work is to be classified as dirty work.
Article 28. Each person must work an equal number of minimally necessary years at dirty work. Individual preferences and individual capabilities for jobs in the dirty work category will be considered as far as possible, given the jobs to be done and the choices and capacities of each of the other workers. Similarly, individual preferences for when in life to do one's share of dirty work, as well as how to schedule the dirty work in relation to creative work (e.g., all in a block or piecemeal), will also be honored as far as possible given the work to be done and the choices of other persons.
Article 29. Each Regional Assembly will establish a Bureau of Dirty Work to figure out the logistics of the labor power needs of the region and to allocate dirty work in accordance with the priorities set by the Workers Caucuses and as worked out in detail by the Interregional Assembly. However, since the very content of several years of a person's working life is at stake here, the functioning of this Bureau will be carefully monitored and checked in the following ways: (1) a continual review of the Bureau will be conducted by the Regional Assembly itself. (2) Any person has the right to appeal a dirty work assignment to a special regional Dirty Work Tribunal of 35 persons selected at random for six-month terms from members of Workers Caucuses in the region. The Dirty Work Tribunal will have final authority over all complaints focusing on the Bureau of Dirty Work, with power to reverse any of the Bureau's decisions. (3) A special permanent watchdog committee will be established, composed of members picked at random from Local Assemblies of the region. (4) Every person has the right to reject the first two assignments received in order to help ensure that the Bureau will take individual preferences into account. There is no guarantee however that such preferences can be honored because dirty work is by definition work no one wants to do. The same work may have to be assigned a third time therefore. (5) The Bureau will never be staffed by permanent bureaucratic officials. Rather, jobs in the Bureau are to be classified as dirty work themselves and rotated frequently like all other dirty work. (6) Ad Hoc investigating committees may be appointed by any Local Assembly so desiring, with power to demand a hearing before the Regional Assembly or the Dirty Work Tribunal. Although these safeguards are essential we hope that in fact they will not be needed because of new attitudes toward work that we fully expect to emerge under non-exploitative social arrangements where the work to be done is equally shared and the wealth produced in common is equally divided. In conditions like this the particular dirty work that falls a person's lot to do will probably not be all that critical a matter.
Article 30. In the remainder of one's working life a person may work at an occupation of his or her own choice, that is, at a task which the individual finds inherently rewarding. After contributing a fair share of this type of work a person may retire to pursue whatever activity or inactivity she or he may desire. Every person has the right however to continue working as long as he or she chooses to do so, unless overruled by a three-fourths vote of the Workers Caucus of which one is a member.
Article 31. Each Regional Assembly will establish a Council on Creative Work which will serve primarily to help people locate work they want to do. The Council has no power to coerce people to take jobs. Moreover, individuals are free to apply for work directly to any Workers Caucus in the land.
Article 32. It should be clear then that each person is obligated to work a certain number of years, considered a fair share of the total work to be done, as decided by common agreement of all the people. Only a few of these years however can be compulsory with regard to the specific type of work undertaken, that is, the dirty work part. In the remaining years, the type of work (but not the number of years) is a matter of choice. Obviously, if not enough people volunteer for a job that is considered essential, that job would have to be reclassified as dirty work.
Part IV: Distribution of Wealth
Article 33. Basic human needs will be provided for out of the fund of wealth commonly produced and will be available free to the members of society (free only in the sense of not costing money; everyone of course contributes a fair share of the work needed to produce this wealth). Food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, transportation, communications, and other basic necessities, as defined by the Workers Caucuses, fall in this category.
Article 34. Beyond this, every person will receive an equal share of the surplus (i.e., of what remains of the total wealth produced after the costs of basic social services and investments have been deducted). This wealth will be available to individuals to spend as they see fit, limited only, of course, by the decisions taken by the Workers Caucuses about what to produce. However, accumulations in excess of five consecutive years will revert to the common fund.
Part V: Defense
Article 35. It is the responsibility of every member of society to guard against invasion and counter-revolution. Every person will be thoroughly acquainted with military strategy and with the techniques of armed defense.
Article 36. Every Workers Caucus will constitute a unit in the People's Militia. The Workers Caucuses in each local area will coalesce to form larger groupings or divisions of the Militia.
Article 37. Each Local Assembly will coordinate the military activities of the Workers Caucuses in its area, in accordance with plans and procedures adopted and approved by the Caucuses themselves.
Article 38. If the Workers Caucuses decide to build and maintain military equipment, which is too expensive or otherwise impracticable for the Militias of each local area to manage, then the Workers Caucuses must decide upon a plan for distributing this equipment, preferably by some device or procedure for random selection or rotation of local areas to handle the equipment.
Article 39. Only the Workers Caucuses can declare a state of war. They also make all decisions regarding the allocation of resources for defense purposes as well as all other decisions pertaining to defense.
Article 40. Police, if they are ever needed, will be selected at random from the Workers Caucuses in a local area, the same area in which they must serve. They will serve for a short period of time not to exceed two years. No person can serve twice. Police activities will be administered and controlled by the Local Assembly in accordance with plans and procedures approved by the Workers Caucuses.
Article 41. No offensive military capacity shall ever be constructed or maintained.
Article 42. In the case of war, the Regional Assembly will assume the function of coordinating the military activities in its region and between its region and other regions.
Article 43. The Interregional Assembly has no authority over matters of defense, nor shall there ever be any military units on the interregional level.
Part VI: Judicial Power
Article 44. Judicial power, like all power, belongs to the people. All persons will receive thorough training in the law and in the judicial process. The law will remain as simple as possible.
Article 45. All crimes, as defined by the Workers Caucuses, are to be judged by Local Tribunals composed of 20 people selected at random from members of the Workers Caucuses in the area, for terms of four months. All 20 people on the court have equal power. There will be no professional judges, under any circumstances.
Article 46. All cases involving refusal to work or refusal to participate in decision-making, or charges of negligence in these duties, are to be handled first by the Workers Caucus of which the person is a member. If that is inadequate then the case will go before the Local Tribunal.
Article 47. The Local Tribunal is the highest court in the land. Its decisions cannot be overturned. There are no courts superior to it on either the regional or interregional levels, that is, no supreme courts. The supreme judicial authority of the Local Tribunals shall under no circumstances be abrogated.
Article 48. Cases that do not naturally fall under the jurisdiction of a particular Local Tribunal will be assigned at random to a Local Tribunal.
Part VII: Inviolable Rights
Article 49. The sovereignty of the Workers Caucuses is not absolute, but limited, by common and mutual agreement. No decisions or actions may be taken by the Caucuses which in any way violate or infringe upon the following principles.
Article 50. There must never be an unequal distribution of wealth, nor special privileges of any kind to any individual or group in the society.
Article 51. Decision-making power on basic policy must never be delegated or entrusted to leaders, representatives, experts, or any other elite of any type. All power rests with the people and must never be relinquished.
Article 52. There must never be discrimination of any kind on the basis of sex, race, age, ethnicity, place of birth, religion, intelligence, native language, personal appearance, or any other personal attribute. All persons are considered equal in power, responsibility, and rights, except with regard to innate needs for food, medical care, etc., as specified in Articles 8, 33, and 34.
Article 53. There shall never be a secret police.
Article 54. There shall never be a professional standing army, navy, or airforce, nor career militarists of any kind.
Article 55. There must never be centralized control over the means of communication.
Article 56. There shall never be regulation of any kind over sexual behavior or family patterns.
Article 57. The right to an immediate and speedy trial must never be denied.
Article 58. Punishment by death is forever outlawed.
Article 59. The right to bear arms is inviolable and must never become the special prerogative of any particular person or group.
Article 60. Freedom in the choice of residence must never be impinged, except during the service of dirty work, and then only if absolutely necessary.
Article 61. Freedom of speech is an inviolable right.
Article 62. Free and equal access to the means of communication is guaranteed to all.
Article 63. Children are in no sense second-class people and are not to be dominated, exploited, or in any way abused or denied their basic rights.
Article 64. Freedom of assembly must never be interfered with.
Article 65. All persons have a right to privacy.
Article 66. If the principles and rights embodied in this constitution are ever subverted, for whatever reason, or through whatever means, such that equality, freedom, and justice no longer prevail in the land, it is hereby declared that the people have the inviolable right to make a revolution to throw off their oppressors.
Part VIII: Vigilance
Article 67. Only the people can prevent power from being seized and monopolized by a tyrannical minority. This danger of tyranny is a permanent one and must be met with constant vigilance. The danger of counter-revolution and reversion to capitalism or some other form of ruling class society is especially great now and in the immediate future when the ideas and habits of the ruling class still persist in all of us and when there are many in our midst who are fighting to reestablish the old order. An egalitarian society therefore can never be achieved once and for all but must be continuously won and guarded in an unceasing political struggle against those who would gather power and wealth to themselves for their own advantage at the expense of the people.