Joining forces on a UK-wide publication (was AF/Platformist split)

What is this I'm reading on the news forum about an AF split? Clarification sought.

admin - this quickly turned into a discussion about greater co-operation between the UK anarchist federations, Freedom, Black Flag and independents on publications - discussion starts a few posts in

Posted By

playinghob
Mar 27 2008 22:34

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David UK
Mar 28 2008 10:58

I'll say what I said in the last thread.

After a lot of internal discussions debates, proposals, etc several members, including myself have left. Consiquently there is now no such thing as Reading AF, and I believe Birmingham may now no longer exist. And ther are other individuals.

Most of those that left are persuing the creation of a paltformist organisation in the UK, that I personally hope works on very friendly terms with the AF. I can't tell you anymore about this new group because it's not properly established yet - when it is, you'll know more.

I still support the AF and everything. But this issue is still ongoing so begging people for tabloid gossip now is not helpful. Leave it be and people will explain themselves in a constructive way.

(im nto saying anything else)

Peter Good
Mar 28 2008 11:29

Gosh! This is exciting. Particularly as the AF/NAN is being dragged into the discussion.

I suppose our own view is that we view organisations with much suspicion. As an affinity group we hold that a small group of guys - sat around a kitchen table - well oiled on good ale - are more capable of creativity and imagination than many an organisation.

And it's not true that we have "split" from the NAN. We've merely formed an Anarchist faction.

Like divorces all splits are painful and you should look after each other.

David UK
Mar 28 2008 11:30

What is wrong with you?

Peter Good
Mar 28 2008 11:33

David, At the moment my right knee is giving me gyp. But otherwise I'm OK.

Battlescarred
Mar 28 2008 12:00

His brain is addled from drinking all that Northern piss!

Refused
Apr 8 2008 17:41
Peter Good wrote:
Particularly as the AF/NAN is being dragged into the discussion.

Hahahahaha.

888
Jun 16 2008 09:41

Seriously, what is the point of a platformist split? It wouldn't be that hard to convince the AF to become a platformist organisation, if that's what you want, as it is already almost platformist anyway (heavily influenced by the platform). Creating a new group seems like a total waste of time.

Did this new split get off the ground or has it already folded (I'm betting on the latter)?

Rob Ray
Jun 16 2008 09:58

It's got a couple of reasonable-sized branches and good relations with Praxis in Glasgow I think, the people I know who are involved are pretty solid.

Anarcho
Jun 16 2008 12:52

Well, just what we need -- yet another anarchist organisation! And can we expect yet another anarchist magazine/journal to appear as well? As if we don't have enough of those already...

Really, this is getting silly -- we have a multitude of organisations and magazines already -- why create yet more? Is there a Guinness Book of Records entry on "number of organisations within a specific national political movement" or something?

Is it really too much to ask for people to forget the 5% (or less) that divides them and remember the 95% (or more) which unites them? Can there not be room for Platformist groups in the AF? Can the AF not rethink its opposition to syndicalism so that anarcho-syndicalists can work in it like they do in the other sections of the IFA? Particularly given how many AFers are IWW members!?!?!?!?!

And maybe that way we can practice solidarity and mutual aid, make best use of resources and generally work together for our common goal? I have made suggestions ages ago that all the anarchist magazines merge into one really good quarterly to complement Freedom, but sadly no one discussed it:

http://anarchism.ws/writers/anarcho/movement/media.html

Black Flag would, I am sure, be into any such positive co-operation (we already work well with Freedom). It just seems silly not too. But I'm afraid that I'm being too practical for my own good...

Bob Savage
Jun 16 2008 13:11

the thing is, anarchism's SUCH a small 'movement' and has next to no representation at all. maybe when anarchism and class struggle are at high points should we worry about splitting off into smaller groups. but only once those groups are large enough. right now anarchism's not on anyone's agenda, surely the point is to try and get these shared views aired first.

akai
Jun 16 2008 13:34

By accident started to read this thread, but now I'm curious- can anybody explain in a nutshell what AF's opposition to anarcho-syndicalism is ?

Rob Ray
Jun 16 2008 13:48

Very briefly, the AF used to be a lot more hardline about it but the idea is that anything you can do in a union you can do outside one, and without the sell-out bureaucracy and descent into reformism unionism is prone to.

In practice though, organising people without unions is both more difficult (almost impossible in many cases) to sell to workforces and more precarious to operate in the current climate, so most AFers have a kind of dual operating system of outside and against in theory, and critically inside in practice. Though there’s a wide variation within the Fed itself, some remaining hardline and some being Wobblies etc.

AFers are free to correct me of course.

Django
Jun 16 2008 13:50
Anarcho wrote:
Well, just what we need -- yet another anarchist organisation! And can we expect yet another anarchist magazine/journal to appear as well? As if we don't have enough of those already...

Really, this is getting silly -- we have a multitude of organisations and magazines already -- why create yet more? Is there a Guinness Book of Records entry on "number of organisations within a specific national political movement" or something?

Is it really too much to ask for people to forget the 5% (or less) that divides them and remember the 95% (or more) which unites them? Can there not be room for Platformist groups in the AF? Can the AF not rethink its opposition to syndicalism so that anarcho-syndicalists can work in it like they do in the other sections of the IFA? Particularly given how many AFers are IWW members!?!?!?!?!

And maybe that way we can practice solidarity and mutual aid, make best use of resources and generally work together for our common goal? I have made suggestions ages ago that all the anarchist magazines merge into one really good quarterly to complement Freedom, but sadly no one discussed it:

http://anarchism.ws/writers/anarcho/movement/media.html

Black Flag would, I am sure, be into any such positive co-operation (we already work well with Freedom). It just seems silly not too. But I'm afraid that I'm being too practical for my own good...

I agree with this.

The actual level of disagreement between AF and Solfed seems less than that within the AF (not really met many Solfed members), given that there are both members who are very skeptical of unions and members who are members of revolutionary unions. Trying to explain differences seems to come down to a sectarian history which is obscure to the majority of anarchists, let alone people who might be interested in anarchism, and is preventing us from realising our potential as a movement.

But given that any organisatonal mergers at the moment look less likely than further splits, at least getting ourselves together and working out a common strategy to get our ideas out makes sense. Its just madness to have Direct Action, Organise, Bread and Roses, Northern Voices, Black Flag etc putting out similar articles when we could be putting out one excellent magazine more frequently and on a bigger scale.

Werther De Goethe
Jun 16 2008 14:42

Someone sent me a copy of Northern Voices (winter 2007 I think) with an invite to a nana meeting. It had some very bizarre articles in it like one supporting the CofE!! confused

john
Jun 16 2008 14:59
Jack wrote:
revol68 wrote:
The splitters idea of platformism is essentially the WSM and that neo platfromist leftist shit, the AF are too ultra leftist for them.

I don't think it even has that much coherence. It has about as much theoretical unity as class was federation. Look at it, it stretches from anarcho-iwca of vanilla.ice.baby, to 'lets protest scientology' of tacks, to 'i'm obviously fucking mental but get away with it because anarchists will put up with any mentalist twat' of nick durie.

what about the question of why not a Solfed-AF merger (I think you're in solfed, right?)?

Rob Ray
Jun 16 2008 15:05

Various people are in both, or are Wobbly and Solfed, or are Wobbly and AF, basically they’ve ended up as semi-arbitrary dividing lines for defining an individual’s politics, but the hardcore in each, who are usually also the most active as secretaries, treasurers etc, would be pretty much impossible to integrate into one entity.

My current thinking on the matter (as though its definitive tongue) is that a limited mutual association – independent groups co-operating via an entity which allows for more efficiency in stuff like buying power, calling demos etc etc, is probably the most realistic idea.

knightrose
Jun 16 2008 15:39
Quote:
so most AFers have a kind of dual operating system of outside and against in theory, and critically inside in practice.

Saii, have you actually read our aims and principles?

It never ceases to amaze me that we can say quite clearly that

Quote:
However, we do not argue for people to leave unions until they are made irrelevant by the revolutionary event. The union is a common point of departure for many workers.

and somehow it always gets forgotten.

To summarise, we realise that unions cannot be used to create a revolution. Unions fulfill a role in the management of capital. But in the workplaces, they are often the place where workers are actually able to discuss, debate and start organising. We have to make sure struggles are controlled by those actually taking part in them. We support rank and file initiatives (that's in the principles too). We are NOT outside of and against.

We're currently debating our industrial strategy. It'll be made public later in the year. The view of many of us is that the IWW is the type of rank and file intiiaitive that strengthen s the struggle for anarchist communism.

As to the platformist "split", frankly I wish them well. I think it's a shame they chose not to stay in the AF, but hold no bad feelings towards them. I expect that we'll end up collaborating on projects in the future.

knightrose
Jun 16 2008 16:25
Quote:
Various people are in both, or are Wobbly and Solfed, or are Wobbly and AF, basically they’ve ended up as semi-arbitrary dividing lines for defining an individual’s politics, but the hardcore in each, who are usually also the most active as secretaries, treasurers etc, would be pretty much impossible to integrate into one entity.

As far as I know there are no joint members now. Having said that, I'd happily be in an organisation with anyone in Manchester SF.

Django
Jun 16 2008 16:33

But what about collaborating on a media strategy? Everyone producing these different class struggle anarchist magazines with a lot of duplication seems a bit silly.

My politics fit with both groups, and I'd likely be a member of whichever if they were operating in my area (and likely will when I move) so it seems pretty silly for me and other anarchists i know who aren't in either for there not to be moves for a more united movement, and certainly less sectarianism.

Rob Ray
Jun 16 2008 16:39
Quote:
But what about collaborating on a media strategy?

Yeah this is what I've been kind of talking about with various people, probably needs a different lead than me though cos I'm always too snowed under to put the work in.

fidel gastro
Jun 16 2008 16:41
Anarcho wrote:
Well, just what we need -- yet another anarchist organisation! And can we expect yet another anarchist magazine/journal to appear as well? As if we don't have enough of those already...

Really, this is getting silly -- we have a multitude of organisations and magazines already -- why create yet more? Is there a Guinness Book of Records entry on "number of organisations within a specific national political movement" or something?

Is it really too much to ask for people to forget the 5% (or less) that divides them and remember the 95% (or more) which unites them? Can there not be room for Platformist groups in the AF? Can the AF not rethink its opposition to syndicalism so that anarcho-syndicalists can work in it like they do in the other sections of the IFA? Particularly given how many AFers are IWW members!?!?!?!?!

And maybe that way we can practice solidarity and mutual aid, make best use of resources and generally work together for our common goal? I have made suggestions ages ago that all the anarchist magazines merge into one really good quarterly to complement Freedom, but sadly no one discussed it:

http://anarchism.ws/writers/anarcho/movement/media.html

Black Flag would, I am sure, be into any such positive co-operation (we already work well with Freedom). It just seems silly not too. But I'm afraid that I'm being too practical for my own good...

Sounds fuckin good to me.

knightrose
Jun 16 2008 16:44

I'm sure the AF would treat any such suggestions with interest. But with no offence to Saii, that wouldn't mean working on Freedom, for example. We believe that any publication should be under the control of the membership of an organisation (or possibly in this hypothetical situation organisations), not under the control of an independent editorial board.

Django
Jun 16 2008 16:57
knightrose wrote:
I'm sure the AF would treat any such suggestions with interest. But with no offence to Saii, that wouldn't mean working on Freedom, for example. We believe that any publication should be under the control of the membership of an organisation (or possibly in this hypothetical situation organisations), not under the control of an independent editorial board.

anarcho's proposal seems a good one:

Quote:
However, looking at the other journals we could have, we are sorely lacking. We have three magazines (Direct Action, Organise! and Black Flag) all of which do roughly the same thing. That is a needless duplication. Why have three magazines with three editorial teams when one magazine could be used to complement Freedom with more in depth articles and analysis? By combining into one journal, we could increase its size, print run, regularity and pool of available articles and people willing to read and sell it. While I would prefer the title of any such journal to be Black Flag, I've aware that Direct Action is the most regular of the existing magazines and it would be more sensible to build on that success.

As well as a single quarterly (or even monthly!) magazine, we could also do with a yearly (or more frequent) journal along the lines of the old "Cienfuegos Anarchist Press Review." As well as reprinting the best of anarchist writing (both from home and abroad) in the previous year, it could be the home of longer pieces on theory and history (whether classic reprints or new material). This could be called Black Flag (no surprises there!).

Then there is the pressing need for a free sheet for handing out at demos and elsewhere. Free sheets are essential means of getting our ideas across to people who then may be interested in getting involved in the movement. A free sheet which is regularly produced and distributed widely would raise interest in our ideas immensely. Something along the lines of the AF's Resistance would be the obvious choice, particularly as none of the other federation's free sheets are as regular or well-known.

Clearly this does not necessarily mean consolidating under Freedom's editorial board, or any. Being under the control of the organisations would mean more collaboration and dialogue, which is certainly a good thing and which no-one seems to be hostile to.

Django
Jun 16 2008 17:42

I dont think theres any reason why this couldn't happen, comrades. Theres no reason for the individuals in the organisations who are interested not to at least put a proposal together for their respective conferences.

Quote:
Lovely idea. Fantastic. Amazing. Brilliant. But never, ever going to happen. Absolutely no point discussing it, it's a total waste of time.

Why is it not even worth discussing though? Looking from outside both organisations it seems strange and I can't see any explanations other than sectarianism. Refer me to an old thread if needs be.

Steven.
Jun 16 2008 17:49
Jack wrote:
john wrote:
what about the question of why not a Solfed-AF merger (I think you're in solfed, right?)?

Okay, onto this.

Lovely idea. Fantastic. Amazing. Brilliant. But never, ever going to happen. Absolutely no point discussing it, it's a total waste of time.

However (while unfortunately almost as unlikely) Anarcho's idea is brilliant. I think if both AF and Sol Fed organisationally had a policy of contributing to Black Flag, rather than their own magazines, it'd be brilliant. I think we'd get a far better return on effort for spreading Anarcho-syndicalist ideas if we had the same involvement in the Black Flag collective as we do in Direct Action, wouldn't be scraping for filler, would have a wider potential distribution and most importantly of all, be associated with Black Flag's far superior appearance to Direct Action. Might actually be worth thinking about as a motion to conference...

In my opinion, at the moment we have 2 sub par organisational magazines (DA and Organise), and 1 okay (but not amazing) independent. I think we'd do a lot better with 1 good magazine, with organisational input from the 2 Federations (and I mean a proper organisational input, not just a member or two on the editorial board, but giving it the same emphasis and effort as we currently give our own magazines). 1 magazine means we could cut filler, centralise design skills, and have a far wider pool of people to call upon for articles. I'm sure if we had genuine organisational input there could be "This magazine is supported by Solidarity/Anarchist Federation" with a contacts etc. section. It'd almost exclusively consist of articles we agreed with (given out 90% agreement as class struggle anarchists, and the high number of articles written by members that organisational involvement would lead to) so we'd be happy to sell it as if it was "our" magazine, and for stuff that we wanted as ourselves, we'd have our freesheets.

on a similar note I think it would be worth anarchist groups collaborating with libcom as a website as well, to make one decent paper, one decent mag and one decent website instead of loads of small, shit ones.

Django
Jun 16 2008 18:34
Jack wrote:
Django wrote:
Why is it not even worth discussing though? Looking from outside both organisations it seems strange and I can't see any explanations other than sectarianism. Refer me to an old thread if needs be.

In 6 years as an anarchist, I've probably witnessed more "Why AF and SF should merge" discussions than "democracy vs consensus". Never goes anywhere, and a few times I've seen it lead to rows as members of both group misintepret others positions.

But why dont they go anywhere? Like I said, you can refer me elsewhere.

akai
Jun 16 2008 18:53

I cannot comment on AF, SF etc., but being around the situation here with our Anarchist Federation, (which suffered a defacto split), I have a few thoughts. But first a question / remark:

Knightrose said (more or less) that s/he realizes the role of unions in managing capitalism but also that rank and file unions can help in movement building and giving experience to people in self-organizing.

I think it would be fair to say that many anarchists/ anti-authoritarians who are involved somehow in workplace organizing (or supporting workplace struggles) are not only highly critical of the roles unions often play, especially where there are some official "social partnerships", or where union bureaucrats are deciding for and betraying the workers. They see directly from their own experience how this works. But hopefully people can see the difference between the urge to make rank and file, radical unions for practical self-defense and somehow uncritically accepting that unions in and of themselves are good things. As anarchists we need to be able to analyse the reformist structures and movements which work to strengthen capitalism. (I would add to this category many NGOs for example and certainly many government sponsored participatory democracy schemes.) That said, it would be helpful to distinguish between the concept of revolutionary unions and reformist ones because for outsiders this might be a more precise and clear division than talking about "anarchosyndicalists", who we know are divided into reformists and revolutionaries. Further, some people working in anarchosyndicalist unions are, I find, actually anarchocommunists.

Of course another question is that fact that some anarchists, once inside organizations such as unions, can slip and go back on some basic principles; we all read here about the non-strike clauses some of the Wobblies signed. Well, this type of compromising is not unique to unionists; we could talk about anarchists who are too cooperative with police and discuss whether this also just aids the police state or about dozens of such issues.

I'm not into unity at all costs, which seems to be the message of some here: if there are serious differences of strategy, better to split up, work effectively in groups with similar goals and modes of operation, and try to cooperate in areas of common interest when feasible.

I don't know whether synthesis federations have any chance of working, unless they just run a couple of common projects and agree to their limitations, or function as a very loose network. That said, people still may find they can work on concrete issues or projects despite differing views on organizational framework or lack thereof.

I don't know if what I wrote is relevant or not to the AF situation, but I suppose there must be something to it because such issues tend to repeat themselves in the movement around the world. The other issue which repeats itself is much harder to define in ideological terms and that is the matter of cliques. From what I see, some groups or federations fall apart because of concepts of strategy for action and development while others do not divide that way but rather divide into cliques of friends with affinity for each other or mutual disdain for others. Sometimes both factors work together.

888
Jun 16 2008 18:58

I'd be interested to know from teh people who left why they thought they couldn't work within the AF and move it ina more platformist direction.

Rob Ray
Jun 16 2008 19:17
Quote:
I think we'd do a lot better with 1 good magazine, with organisational input from the 2 Federations

Well ideally, yeah. It's not like it'd be tremendously difficult to organise say, an editorial team which has mandated Fed members alongside independents, and turn over dedicated chunks of Black Flag (for example) to different groups in exchange for the security of financial backing/distro groups that would bring. The increased input could easily make for an on-time quarterly (or even bi-monthly) which was distributed right across the country and the only thing that would be lost content wise would be the dross.

jack white
Jun 16 2008 20:06
Steven. wrote:
on a similar note I think it would be worth anarchist groups collaborating with libcom as a website as well, to make one decent paper, one decent mag and one decent website instead of loads of small, shit ones.

How would you see that working in practice? I'm not asking for a full blueprint but what kind of input do you think groups could have?